Gallardo wins again, pitches Brewers past Cubs 3-1
Milwaukee spoils return of Cubs' pitcher Baker
CHICAGO — There was emotion and adrenaline to spare as Cubs right-hander Scott Baker made his first big league start in nearly two years on Sunday.
But the 31-year-old veteran was able to channel both as he pitched five innings of two-hit, scoreless baseball.
In the end, Baker didn’t factor in a decision as the Milwaukee Brewers scored three times in the seventh in a 3-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs in a series finale at Wrigley Field.
“There were some emotions there and it’s been a long road,” he said. “I was happy my family was here to share this moment because they’re as much a part of this as I am. The rehab process is hard on everyone, not just the player.”
Brewers pinch-hitter Jeff Bianchi singled home two runs while starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo delivered another with a base hit off reliever James Russell as Milwaukee scored three times in the seventh inning at Wrigley Field.
Gallardo, meanwhile, had his fifth strong outing since returning from the disabled list in mid-August. He pitched seven innings, allowed one earned run on three hits and walked one and struck out six as the Brewers claimed two-of-three in the series.
“I just felt good, I was able to keep the ball down and I felt like I had a pretty good slider working both sides of the plate,” said Gallardo, now 11-9 and 3-0 since returning from a hamstring injury. “The year hasn’t gone the way I wanted to, but coming off the DL has kind of refreshed the mental side.”
Baker last pitched for Minnesota in September 2011 and has been out since undergoing Tommy John ligament replacement surgery. He signed a one-year deal with the Cubs late last year and spent part of this season pitching in the minors.
He worked five scoreless innings and gave up two hits, walked one and struck out one while throwing 55 pitches.
Cubs rookie Junior Lake (2-for-3) clubbed his sixth home run of the season in the fifth inning, sending Gallardo’s 2-1 pitch to the left-field bleachers for a 1-0 Cubs lead.
Baker was pulled for a pinch-hitter after Lake’s homer and right-hander Justin Grimm entered in relief.
“Seventy five pitches was going to be it (for Baker) anyway,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “He did a great job his first time out … (but) I’m not going to say yes or no on that right now (about another start). We’ll talk about it and see how he feels in the next couple of days.”
Grimm sailed through the sixth then gave up back-to-back hits with one out to Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Gomez. He left the game with runners at second and third.
Bianchi greeted Russell with a single up the middle that scored Ramirez and Carlos Gomez runs for a 2-1 Brewers lead. Gallardo’s base hit drove home Bianchi to make the score 3-1.
“If he (Bianchi) doesn’t get that hit then we’re scrambling and we’re doing things different,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. “Jeff’s at-bat was our offense basically.”
Milwaukee threatened in the eighth with Ramirez at third and two out, but Chicago reliever Carlos Villanueva got Bianchi on an inning-ending grounder to short.
Left-hander Brandon Kintzler worked a one-two-three eighth while right-hander Jim Henderson faced three batters in the ninth and earned his 24th save.
Grimm (0-1) took the loss after pitching 1 1/3 innings. He allowed two earned runs on two hits.
NOTES: Gallardo now has 1,062 career strikeouts, trailing only Teddy Higuera (1,081) and Ben Sheets (1,206) on the Brewers all-time list. … Milwaukee returns home to start the season’s final homestand, a 10-game stretch beginning Tuesday against the Cardinals. … The Brewers are now 63-63 all-time at Wrigley Field, including a 12-5 mark in their last 17 meetings in Chicago. … Five of the Cubs’ final six series are against National League contenders starting with a three-game series that opens Monday in Cincinnati. They have two three-game sets with the Pirates. … The Cubs activated Baker from the 60-day disabled list prior to Sunday’s game. To make room on the 40-man roster they designated INF Cody Ransom for assignment. … The Cubs Single-A Daytona affiliate is one win away from the Florida State League champions following Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Charlotte. The teams were scheduled to meet again Sunday night. … The Cubs have now lost 21 of their last 28 home games.