Baker dazzles, but Cubs fall to Milwaukee


Sep 8, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs pitcher

Scott Baker

(32) pitches in the first inning of the game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

There were a lot of questions surrounding Scott Baker prior to Sunday afternoon’s start. The right-hander hadn’t made a start at the Major League level since September 2011, and after undergoing Tommy John surgery last year, his future was up in the air. With five shutout innings against Milwaukee in his Cubs debut, he may have answered some of those questions.

Keeping Chicago in the game against the Brewers, Baker gave Chicago management a glimpse into what he could offer for the team heading into 2014, allowing just two hits and one walk over his five stellar innings of work. Unfortunately, as has been the case so many times this season, the bullpen faltered, and the Cubs dropped the contest, 3-1.

Relievers Justin Grimm and James Russell combined to allow three runs – all earned – in the top of the seventh inning. A two-run single by Jeff Bianchi overcame the Cubs’ 1-0 advantage, and Gallardo helped himself, singling to left field as the ball deflected off the glove of shortstop Starlin Castro, scoring Bianchi from third.

Aramis Ramirez started that rally off with a double, but despite that knock, he is just 10-for-46 against Chicago over the past three seasons, with two home runs and 10 RBIs.

The only offense that the Cubs could muster against Yovani Gallardo and the Brewers came in the form of a solo home run off the bat of Junior Lake, who returned to the lineup after a day off on Saturday. That was the young outfielder’s sixth home run this season, and it came on a day when the Cubs failed to find any rhythm offensively.

Gallardo was masterful for Milwaukee, allowing just three hits on the afternoon – two of which came off the bat of Lake. In seven innings, he allowed just the one run, punching out six and walking one, en route to his eleventh win of the season.

The only other hit the Cubs managed against Brewers pitching came via a single by Luis Valbuena. Apart from this, and two hits from Lake, Chicago did not touch up any Milwaukee pitchers. Brewers’ closer Jim Henderson closed the door for the second straight day, giving Milwaukee a series win over the struggling Cubs.

Chicago takes to the road, heading to Cincinnati to take on the playoff hopeful Reds. Bronson Arroyo (13-10, 3.62) will start for the Reds, and will be opposed by Cubs left-hander and National League All-Star Travis Wood (8-11, 3.17). First pitch is scheduled for 6:10 p.m. CT.