Rizzo hits 32nd homer as Cubs beat Brewers

Milwaukee finishes season 82-80
Rizzo hits 32nd homer as Cubs beat Brewers

Anthony Rizzo hit his 32nd home run of the season and the Chicago Cubs’ collection of youngsters provided reason for optimism next year, wrapping up the 2014 season with a 5-2 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday afternoon at Miller Park.

Rizzo, the Cubs’ first baseman, went 3-for-4 and also reached on a walk to cap off a 6-for-11 series.

“There’s always optimism and now you can see it around everywhere,” said Rizzo, who finished the season 15-for-38 at the plate following an 18-game absence due to a lower back strain. “We each got to keep the course, though. And keep developing as individuals and developing as a team.”

Rizzo put the Cubs on the board with a two-run home run off Brewers right-hander Mike Fiers in the first, then scored the go-ahead run in the sixth inning when he came home on center fielder Arismendy Alcantara’s two-run double that broke a 2-2 tie.

All that was enough to make things easy for right-hander Jacob Turner, who drew the finale start and held Milwaukee to two runs on four hits and three walks over five innings of work.

“It’s definitely a good way to finish,” Turner said. “A good team win today. The offense got me the early lead, I think which was crucial. When I have up that second run they came right back and scored some more runs. So, it was a good team win.”

For the Brewers, who face an uncertain offseason after a disastrous final month, it was more of the same: good starting pitching but punchless offense.

Fiers (6-5) gave up two home runs, but struck out seven through six innings. However, the Milwaukee offense couldn’t get going against Turner (6-11), and left runners in scoring position in the second, fifth and seventh innings.

“I thought Jacob looked pretty good today,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. “He had really good action. He was sinking the ball pretty well. Velocities were good. He gave us a chance and the guys just — they chipped away. We scored enough obviously to do what we needed to do. Nice finish by all these guys. I thought they kept playing.”

The lone bright spot for the Brewers in the finale was a two-hit day for Jonathan Lucroy, starting at first base Sunday. He singled in his final two at-bats to finish with a .300 batting average for the season.

“I wasn’t going to keep him in there, but he wanted to keep going,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. “After he got the first one, he had to try to get the second one. That was nice to see. He had a great year. Behind the plate, he’s really developing into a guy that does everything well. The offensive part, he’s really good and he’s going to continue to be really good.”

With Lucroy manning first base Sunday, Martin Maldonado got the start behind the plate and drove in Milwaukee’s first run, reaching on an error in the second that scored shortstop Jean Segura. Second baseman Elian Herrera tied the game at 2-2 with an RBI double in the fifth.

The Cubs added an insurance run in the ninth when second baseman Chris Valaika singled and scored when left fielder Chris Coghlan reached on a fielder’s choice.

Right-hander Hector Rondon retired the Brewers in order in the ninth for his 29th save of the season.

NOTES: Milwaukee finished the season with a winning record (82-80) for the third time in four years under manager Ron Roenicke. … The Cubs’ pitching staff began the day with 1,307 strikeouts, the second-highest total in the National League this season. Cubs batters began the day with 1,465 strikeouts, the most in all of baseball in 2014. Brewers pitchers struck out 12 Cubs on Sunday, giving the Brewers pitchers a total of 1,319 strikeouts, and increasing the number of strikeouts by Cubs hitters to 1,477. … Brewers RHP Brandon Kintzler will undergo surgery Tuesday on his left patella tendon. He said the issue has been bothering him for nearly two years. … Chicago finished in last place for the second straight season and has recorded five straight losing seasons, the longest stretch of sub-.500 baseball for the franchise since 1978-83.