Villanueva, Cubs fall to Milwaukee, 5-2, in series opener


Apr 25, 2014; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Chicago Cubs pitcher

Carlos Villanueva

(33) reacts after giving up a double to Milwaukee Brewers center fielder

Carlos Gomez

(not pictured) in the fourth inning at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

From the word ‘go’ on Friday night, the Milwaukee Brewers came out and handled their business against a struggling Chicago Cubs team that had barely managed a split of a four-game series against the league’s worst team in the Arizona Diamondbacks. A pair of first-inning runs set the tone for Matt Garza and Milwaukee, as the club cruised to a 5-2 win over the Cubs in the series opener.

Former Cub Matt Garza (1-2, 4.09 ERA) turned in seven innings of two-run ball against his former teammates, living up to the promise of “kicking the Cubs’ teeth in” when he had the chance. He allowed just four hits and one walk, while notching seven punch outs on the evening.

Milwaukee (17-6) wasted no time getting to Cubs starter Carlos Villanueva (1-5, 10.42 ERA), tallying two runs in the bottom of the first inning against the right-hander. Leadoff man Carlos Gomez led off the frame with a single to left and second baseman Scooter Gennett followed that up with an RBI double for the first run of the ballgame. The next batter up, Ryan Braun, laced a single of his own to left, plating Gennett to give the Brewers a 2-0 lead they would never relinquish.

Villanueva continued his struggles as a starter this season, allowing five earned in five innings of work on 11 hits. The Brewers added single runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings against the right-hander, spelling the end of his night. Right-hander Neil Ramirez and southpaw Wesley Wright pitched the final three frames for Chicago, allowing just one combined hit while striking out four.

An RBI single by Emilio Bonifacio gave the Cubs their first run in the top of the third, cutting the Milwaukee lead to 2-1. However, Jonathan Lucroy singled in a run of his own in the bottom of the inning to push his club’s lead back to a two-run margin. Lyle Overbay‘s first homer of the year added another run in the fourth and a sacrifice fly off the bat of former Cub Aramis Ramirez in the fifth provided the final tally of the ballgame in the fifth.

Chicago (7-15) managed just five hits in the ballgame, as opposed to the dozen racked up by Milwaukee. Four different Brewers hitters tallied multiple hit games, while no Cubs player managed more than a lone knock. First baseman Anthony Rizzo went 0-for-4 with a trio of strikeouts on the night – accounting for a quarter of the club’s dozen strikeouts against Milwaukee arms.

The two teams will meet again Saturday night at Miller Park, with first pitch slated for 6:10 p.m. CT. Southpaw Travis Wood (1-2, 2.52 ERA) will start for Chicago and will be opposed by right-hander Marco Estrada (1-1, 2.66 ERA).