Struggling Brewers pounded by Cubs 10-0
Of course, it makes a difference when that pitcher is Chicago's Ryan Dempster, who has owned the Brewers for most of his career. And having Yovani Gallardo give up a three-run homer in the first inning didn't help Milwaukee, either.
Dempster threw seven innings of three-hit ball and the Cubs beat the Brewers 10-0 on Tuesday night.
"When you're facing Dempster, it's hard," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "We knew if we get down three runs right away, we know we're going to have a tough time coming back and scoring a lot of runs off him. Not that we quit. I still think we went up there with good thoughts and the idea we were going to battle him. But he made good pitches."
Hoping to gain momentum after a road sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers last week, the Brewers instead have lost three of their last four.
"It seems when we get on a roll like that, we just kind of lose it," Gallardo said. "We can't do that anymore. We've got to come together as a team and start playing good baseball again."
The loss left Roenicke scratching his head.
"Really, when you look at the numbers, they don't match up," Roenicke said. "Even Yovani's. I thought Yo really threw the ball well. He had great stuff: 10 strikeouts, five runs — it doesn't make sense."
Coming into Tuesday's game, Dempster (1-3) had gone 18 straight starts without a victory. He broke his winless streak in dominant fashion, not allowing a baserunner until Cody Ransom singled to lead off the sixth.
Alfonso Soriano hit a three-run home run, Jeff Baker added a two-run shot and Bryan LaHair hit a solo homer for the Cubs.
It wasn't a shock for Dempster to break the streak against the Brewers. Coming into Tuesday's game, he had a 15-6 career record against Milwaukee with a 2.75 ERA. And he had plenty of support from a significant number of Cubs fans who made the drive up I-94.
Dempster wasn't pitching terribly during his winless streak, posting a 3.95 ERA over those 18 starts. But the Cubs had scored three runs or fewer in 16 of those games. Scoring runs for Dempster wasn't a problem for the Cubs on Tuesday, as they got five runs in six innings off of Gallardo (4-5).
Ryan Braun was back in the lineup for the Brewers after missing two straight starts because of a nagging right Achilles' injury, plus a strained right hip that took him out of Friday's game.
In the first, Gallardo allowed a one-out single to Starlin Castro, then walked David DeJesus. Soriano then hit a pitch just over the fence in right field, his ninth of the season, to give the Cubs a 3-0 lead.
As Dempster cruised through the first four innings, the Cubs took a 4-0 lead in the fourth when LaHair hit his 11th homer of the season.
Gallardo gave up another run in the fifth. With one out, Tony Campana reached first on an infield hit after Gallardo and first baseman Corey Hart got crossed up on a ground ball. Campana then took third on a single by Castro, and went home on a sacrifice bunt by DeJesus. Gallardo struck out Soriano to end the inning.
Meanwhile, Dempster continued to mow down Brewers batters, throwing only 62 pitches through five innings. He finally gave up a single to Ransom to start the sixth, then a two-out single to Carlos Gomez, but he got Norichika Aoki to fly out to end the inning without allowing a run.
Things really fell apart for Milwaukee in the eighth. After an RBI single by Steve Clevenger left runners on first and second with two outs, Darwin Barney hit a bloop single that scored Soriano — and the Brewers couldn't tag Clevenger out despite getting him caught in a rundown.
Brewers reliever Tim Dillard intentionally walked Ian Stewart to load the bases, then walked pinch-hitter Adrian Cardenas to make the score 8-0. Campana grounded out to end the inning.
Appearing as a pinch hitter in the ninth, Baker made it 10-0 with a two-run shot, his first homer of the year.
Notes: Brewers 3B and longtime Cubs slugger Aramis Ramirez was out of the starting lineup with a left quadriceps strain.... LHP Paul Maholm (4-4, 4.82) faces RHP Zack Greinke (6-2, 3.46) in the second game of the series Wednesday night.