Brewers: Bullpen blows it for Jimmy Nelson in 5-2 loss


Right-hander Jimmy Nelson was outstanding Thursday night, firing seven shutout innings at the Chicago Cubs as the Milwaukee Brewers returned to Miller Park to open a 10-game homestand.

The bullpen? Not so much.

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Jeremy Jeffress and Will Smith teamed up to cough up a 2-0 lead in the eighth inning and Michael Blazek threw more gas on the fire in the ninth as the Cubs rallied for a 5-2 victory to open the four-game set.

Nelson was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the seventh after allowing only two hits and three walks while striking out eight.

Jeffress, a right-hander, came on and allowed back-to-back singles to open the inning and Smith (4-2), a lefty, was summoned.

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He struck out rookie Kyle Schwarber and got pinch-hitter Chris Denorfia to fly out.

But Anthony Rizzo blasted a line shot over the wall in right-center field for his 18th home run of the season and just like that, the Brewers (44-59) trailed.

Blazek, a right-hander, got the final out of the eighth but got into trouble in the ninth, giving up singles to Starlin Castro and Jonathan Herrera sandwiched around a wild pitch and Kris Bryant made it a 4-2 game with a sacrifice fly.

Schwarber later lined an RBI single to left.

The Brewers had staked Nelson to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the third against right-hander Jake Arrieta.

Gerardo Parra led off with a ground-ball single up the middle to extend his hitting streak to a career-high 14 games. Parra then stole second and scored when Jonathan Lucroy laced a double to left field.

A wild pitch by Arrieta moved Lucroy to third and he scored when Ryan Braun reached on an infield single to shortstop that was first deflected by Arrieta.

Arrieta didn’t pitch badly, allowing two runs on five hits in six innings, walking three and striking out six. Rafael Soriano (2-0) got the win, working a scoreless seventh, and Hector Rondon cleaned up for his 14th save.

The Cubs (54-47) remained two games behind the San Francisco Giants for the second wild-card spot in the National League. They trail the first-place St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central by 10½ games and are five games in back of the Pittsburgh Pirates, who lead the wild-card hunt.

“It was nice to string together some good outings and be more consistent,” Nelson told “I was able to get ahead, for the most part. Times when I went 1-0, I was able to make a quality pitch.”

The game was overshadowed a bit by the trade just before game time of center fielder Carlos Gomez and right-hander Mike Fiers to the Houston Astros for a quartet of top prospects.

“Mike has been this under-the-radar guy who has established himself as a major-league starter,” manager Craig Counsell said. “He never took a back seat to anybody and he had to fight for everything he got. He’s earned everything he’s gotten.”

Parra was 2-for-4, raising his average to .328, good for fourth in the National League, and his .517 slugging percentage ranks ninth.

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  • The series continues Friday at 7:10 p.m., with right-hander Taylor Jungmann (5-2, 2.14 ERA) scheduled for Milwaukee against right-hander Jason Hammel (5-5, 3.20).

    It will be Jungmann’s first time in the Brewers-Cubs rivalry. In his last start, he allowed two runs on four hits in six innings, with four walks and seven strikeouts, taking a hard-luck 2-0 loss at Arizona on Saturday.

    Hammel, a 10-year veteran, has owned Milwaukee in eight career starts, going 6-0 with a 2.25 ERA and 1.096 WHIP in 52 innings, while striking out 45.

    He is 1-0 in two starts against the Brewers this season with a 3.46 ERA and 12 strikeouts in 13 innings. He got the win on May 8 at Miller Park, allowing two runs on five hits in seven innings with three walks and eight strikeouts in a 7-6 Chicago victory.

    But he was hammered his last time out, surrendering six runs on eight hits in just 3.2 innings Sunday, taking the loss in an 11-5 win by the Philadelphia Phillies at Wrigley Field.

    Next: Anatomy Of A Failed Trade

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