Filling in for the injured Anthony Rizzo, Chris Valaika hit a two-run home run early, setting the pace for the offense as the Chicago Cubs cruised to a 6-2 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field on Wednesday night.
Chicago (64-76) picked up its third straight win and fifth in its last seven contests as rookie right-hander Kyle Hendricks (6-1, 2.02 ERA) pitched into the seventh, scattering seven hits and allowing a pair of runs. The Brewers, on the other hand, dropped an eighth-straight contest, falling further out of the playoff picture in the National League Central race.
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Milwaukee (73-66) scored first in the top of the second against Hendricks, but Valaika’s two-run blast in the bottom half of the inning gave the Cubs a lead they would never relinquish. A four-run second marked the end of Chicago’s offense, but it was enough to end Matt Garza‘s night early.
Garza (7-8, 3.87 ERA) lasted just three innings in his first start since returning from a ribcage injury, and was hit hard for six earned in those three frames, on eight hits and one walk. The Milwaukee relief corps followed him with five scoreless frames, but the damage was done.
A two-run double by Jorge Soler, who now has 10 RBIs since his promotion last week, made it a 4-1 Chicago lead and another double by Welington Castillo followed by a Logan Watkins single pushed it to 6-1. The Brewers tallied a lone run in the sixth on a Valaika error, but Justin Grimm, Neil Ramirez, Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon closed things out with 3 1/3 scoreless frames in relief of Hendricks, who was named the National League Rookie of the Month of August prior to the game.
Chris Coghlan joined Castillo, Watkins and Valaika with two hits apiece to lead the Chicago charge. Following the three-game sweep, the Cubs will have a scheduled off-day on Thursday before beginning a three-game set over the weekend at Wrigley against Pittsburgh.