MILWAUKEE — Brewers catcher Martin Maldonado let out a scream and pumped his fist. If you didn't know any better, you'd think this was a playoff game in mid-October.
Instead, it was just a mid-May game in which the rebuilding Brewers again took down baseball's best team with a 5-3 win over the Cubs at Miller Park.
Maldonado's eighth inning reaction after Jorge Soler struck out with two runners in scoring position embodied how teams with no plans for the playoffs will still give the Cubs everything they've got.
In a way, this is the Brewers' October — playing a division rival that boasts the best record in baseball for three games in front of their home fans.
Even with Dexter Fowler's leadoff homer and Miguel Montero's second-inning RBI single Thursday, the Cubs still led for less than three innings total in the series against a team six games under .500.
Jason Hammel got the start for the Cubs and looked on track for another quality start before Kirk Nieuwenhuis deposited a ball off the facing of the right-field bleachers for a two-run shot in the sixth inning.
It was the second homer Hammel surrendered on the afternoon, following a monster blast from Chris Carter in the fourth that was clocked at 115 mph off the bat.
"For whatever reason, I just couldn't bury sliders on those pitches and that put us behind," Hammel said. "It's hard to fight from behind.
"You have to continue to push forward. It's disappointing, obviously, to come here and lose two of three, but you move on to the next game."
Hammel finished with four runs on five hits and two walks in six innings, striking out seven. It is the only start in which he's allowed more than three earned runs this season, watching his ERA jump from 1.77 to 2.31.
"Unfortunately, we made a couple bad pitches and they were able to hit it to where nobody actually plays," Montero said. "Other than that, he threw the ball good. Unfortunately, today was a tough game."
On the other side, Brewers starter Junior Guerra struck out 11 Cubs in seven innings, including Addison Russell on all three matchups.
"We haven't been swinging and missing like that in a bit, so you gotta give them credit," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "He had a really good splitter goin' on.
"They just beat us. We had opportunities and we could not cash in."
Guerra gifted the Cubs their third run in the seventh when he threw a wild pitch to score Montero from third base with two outs.
The high-powered Cubs offense that came into Thursday's game leading the National League in runs scored couldn't do much with the Milwaukee pitching staff in the series, scoring five runs off little-known starters Chase Anderson, Jimmy Nelson and Guerra in 23 combined innings.
Things got a little interesting for the Cubs in the ninth inning when Addison Russell and Montero led off with back-to-back walks. But Javy Baez struck out swinging, Dexter Fowler flew out to the wall in right field and Jason Heyward struck out.
The Cubs continue on their road trip, now heading to San Francisco for a matchup with the Giants after escaping Milwaukee with just one win.
"It was a well-played series," Hammel said. "They pitched pretty well against us. Obviously three tight ballgames.
"You can't win all of them."