CHICAGO (AP) — Cody Bellinger drove in the tiebreaking run with a ricochet infield single in the eighth inning and the Chicago Cubs beat Milwaukee 3-2 on Wednesday to pull within three games of the first-place Brewers in the NL Central.
Bellinger’s sharply hit ball up the middle glanced off the right ankle or foot of reliever Joel Payamps and to third baseman Andruw Monasterio. Bellinger beat out Monasterio’s throw, allowing Mike Tauchman to score from third. It was Chicago’s third and final hit of the game.
After dropping the first game of the series Monday, the Cubs came back to take the next two with solid pitching and defense. At 71-62, Chicago is a season-high nine games above .500.
Chicago had ended Milwaukee’s nine-game winning streak Tuesday with a 1-0 win behind six solid innings from All-Star left-hander Justin Steele, followed by three innings of one-hit relief.
Adbert Alzolay (2-4) got the final four outs in this one for the win, despite hitting Mark Canha with bases loaded in the eighth to force in the tying run. Payamps (4-4) took the loss.
Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks pitched six crisp innings, allowing only an unearned run on four hits while striking out six and walking two. Ian Happ and Dansby Swanson drove in runs in the first.
Milwaukee’s Brandon Woodruff settled in after Chicago jumped ahead 2-0. The right-hander allowed two runs on two hits, while striking out eight and walking one in in six innings in a second straight strong outing.
William Contreras drove in Milwaukee’s first run.
The Brewers tied it at 2 with two outs in the eighth, taking advantage of a rare Cubs bullpen meltdown. With Chicago ahead 2-1, Sal Frelick singled off Mark Leiter Jr., Chicago’s second reliever. Leiter walked the next two hitters to load the bases.
Alzolay entered and hit Canha with his second pitch.
Brewers: 1B Carlos Santana (right ankle) started after missing two games.
Cubs: RHP Marcus Stroman (rib cartilage fracture) threw long toss before Friday’s game. There’s no timetable for the All-Star’s return. … RHP Brad Boxberger (right forearm strain) is slated to make another rehab appearance with Triple-A Iowa on Wednesday. … RHP Nick Burdi (nerve irritation) is expected to resume throwing on Friday.
Brewers: RHP Freddy Peralta (11-8, 3.95 ERA) pitches at Philadelphia on Friday night. The Phillies had not yet named a starter.
Cubs: LHP Jordan Wicks (1-0, 1.80) faces Reds RHP Graham Ashcraft (7-8, 4.73) on Friday in Cincinnati.