MILWAUKEE — The Cubs aren’t about to let anybody see them sweat. Not when they’re chilling in their clubhouse and answering questions about the National League Central race, anyway.
Still, their 6-4 victory Wednesday over the second-place Brewers was a pretty big deal. The Cubs got out of town with their only win of the three-game series, but a four-game division lead sure feels different than a two-game lead would have.
“They won the series, and I needed to battle for us,” said winning pitcher Jose Quintana (12-9), now 4-1 with a 1.55 ERA in six career starts at Miller Park. “A really good game for us. I’m happy we won.”
Both the Brewers and the Cardinals trail the Cubs by five games in the loss column in a crowded NL postseason picture.
“This is not easy,” first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. “If it was easy, you’d see a lot more people with this job. Our division is very competitive. Our league is very competitive. We’re at the top, and we’ve got to keep fighting to stay that way.’’
The Cubs won for the 11th time in 13 games with second baseman Daniel Murphy in the starting lineup. Shortstop Addison Russell, on the other hand, had a good view from the bench until he entered the game as a defensive replacement in the seventh inning.
There are those who’d say the bench is the best place for Russell to be down the stretch.
Murphy’s bat makes him too valuable not to play. If that slides MVP candidate Javy Baez to shortstop, well, that about does it for Russell, doesn’t it?
He doesn’t see it that way.
“I think that we all contribute whenever we play our roles,” he said. “Whenever I’m out there, I think we have a pretty good chance as well.”
Russell, who has been hampered by an injury to his right middle finger, was activated off the disabled list over the weekend. Manager Joe Maddon plans to continue easing him back into action.
“This is just still a process,” Russell said. “You deal with all the negatives to get to positives.”
Never gets old
There was a bit of base-running magic by — any wild guesses? — Baez. After hitting a single in the fourth off Brewers starter Jhoulys Chacin (14-6), he made a daring, and possibly a little crazy, attempt to reach third base on a line single to center by Rizzo. Center fielder Lorenzo Cain, clearly surprised, unleashed a wild throw that enticed Baez to round the bag, head for home and score.
“That’s just who he is,” Maddon said. “He makes things happen on the bases. He’s fearless.”
Didn’t look hurt
Kyle Schwarber’s back tightened up after he was thrown out sliding into third base in the fourth inning. He left the game two innings later, but not before launching a 436-foot homer to right in his next at-bat. His status is day-to-day.
Pitching matchups for the upcoming four-game series at the Nationals:
Thursday: Kyle Hendricks (11-10, 3.77) vs. Stephen Strasburg (7-7, 4.09), 6:05 p.m., NBCSCH, 670-AM.
Friday:Jon Lester (15-5, 3.53) vs. Joe Ross (season debut), 6:05 p.m., NBCSCH, 670-AM.
Saturday:Cole Hamels (4-0, 1.00) vs. Max Scherzer (16-6, 2.28), 6:05 p.m., Ch. 9, 670-AM.
Sunday:Mike Montgomery (4-5, 3.76) vs. Erick Fedde (1-3, 6.00), 12:35 p.m., NBCSCH, 670-AM.