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Brewers efforts fail to keep Cubs fans out of Miller Park for Cubs-Brewers

MILWAUKEE — What if a Brewers-Cubs game happened in Milwaukee, and nobody from Chicago was there to hear it, see it or cheer for the Cubs?

“I mean, we might just sink into a hole as players,” first baseman Anthony Rizzo deadpanned. “We really love our Cubs fans on the road.”

The Brewers tried to limit the number of Cubs fans at Miller Park by limiting ticket sales for the teams’ 10 meetings there to Wisconsin residents.

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Cubs fans have been a big part of the scene at Milwaukee's Miller Park for Cubs-Brewers games in recent years, such as this game last July.

“We’ll see if the plan they hatched has any positive results,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said before Thursday night’s series opener. “I know they tried something different with ticket sales. I hope it’s a positive result for Brewers fans.”

Apparently, not so much.

The Brewers said they sold several thousand tickets for each game during the resident-only sale.

Of course, it would have been impossible to weed out any Cubs fans who might, for example, live near the state line and have Wisconsin zip codes.

Regardless, it didn’t seem to prevent another bipartisan crowd at Wrigley North with strong and vocal support for the Cubs, most conspicuously during a three-run second inning.

“I’m almost certain, if you’re from the state of Illinois and you want to come see a game up here, you’ll find a way,” Rizzo said. “I’ve seen it before. I’ve seen Game 7 of a World Series [in Cleveland] that was probably 60-40, if not 50-50. I’m sure there’ll be a way to get tickets if they want them.

“We’re very fortunate to have the following that we do.”

Rap sessions

The Cubs weren’t panicking about their hitting, but they weren’t shrugging off their first-week issues, either, as they headed into Thursday’s series opener.

Hitting coach Chili Davis held a hitters meeting to stress some of the approach fundamentals that seemed to get lost in the rush to 58 strikeouts through five games and back-to-back shutouts before Thursday.

“[Brewers starter Brent] Sutter’s been tough on us, but we did a nice job; when he did put a ball where we liked it, it was hit, it was hit firmly, it wasn’t taken, it wasn’t fouled off,” manager Joe Maddon said. “We really completed the game plan.”

With a three-run third, they ended a 19-inning scoring drought and finished with eight runs on 13 hits and nine strikeouts – four of those belonging to major-league leader Ian Happ (14).

But Javy Baez reached five times; Willson Contreras four; and Jason Heyward came off the bench and hit a two-run homer in the ninth.

“We have done a better job than I’ve ever seen any team do at bouncing things off of each other early in the season, in spring training and the first week of the season,” veteran Ben Zobrist said.

“Everyone can rest assured that there are a lot of conversations happening behind closed doors,” Zobrist said. “And there’s a lot of thought being put into what’s happening on the field. You’ve still got to go out and execute and find a way to get things going. But the right thoughts are happening.”