The party’s over. For now.
Ryan Braun launched two homers and five RBI and Chris Carter had a grand slam in the Milwaukee Brewers' 11-3 victory over the Cubs on Saturday afternoon at Wrigley Field.
Jake Arrieta threw six innings, four hits, four runs (three earned), four walks and five strikeouts on 102 pitches. He recorded the loss and is 17-7 on the season with a 2.96 ERA.
Arrieta had a solid outing through five innings but started to struggle in the sixth, which he believed changed the game.
"Really the turning point for me in that game was the two-run homer to Braun," Arrieta said. "(I) go out in the sixth with a two-run lead, wasn’t able to get out of that unscathed, I think there were three or four base runners. And then after the homer, was able to get three outs. Just poor execution. I don’t think we were at our best today."
The Cubs pitcher has a 4.15 ERA in September and has now walked 21 batters over 37 1/3 innings in his last six starts. Command was an issue again for Arrieta, who entered the inning around 60 pitches, but he's not too concerned with it.
"Just need to find that comfort with the sinker in the strike zone first pitch, and then after that it opens up a lot of doors," Arrieta said. "We’re working on it. It has a lot to do with the guy who’s in the box. Just the execution needs to be better early in the count to prevent guys from taking pitches and getting into 2-1, 3-1 counts.
"I just need to tighten that up moving forward. (I) got a couple starts left before October, just to prepare for that."
Arrieta also threw his 15th wild pitch of the season, which leads the National League after throwing only six all of last year.
"We missed locations on several locations and give them credit they did not miss the baseball," said manager Joe Maddon. "That’s what I saw. Jake did not have his typical command. The first home run to Braun you could see how badly he wanted to do one thing and ended up doing something differently."
The Cubs started things off in the first with Kris Bryant’s RBI triple. Chris Coghlan followed with a two-run homer to make it 3-0 early.
The Cubs had many opportunities after that, but failed to score. They left five men on with runners in scoring position.
Perhaps their best opportunity came in the fourth, when the Cubs’ first three men reached on two singles and a walk to start the inning. But Matt Szczur struck out and Munenori Kawasaki grounded into a double play.
In the fourth, Scooter Gennett’s RBI double cut the Cubs’ lead within one, but Braun crushed the first of his two-run homers of the day to give the Brewers their first lead of the game at 4-3.
C.J. Edwards — who had allowed just one homer in his 34-career big league appearances — allowed two in the seventh. Braun homered for the second time, and two batters later, Domingo Santana crushed a solo shot to make it 7-3. Braun finished with three hits, two homers and five RBI.
"We had other opportunities to tie or go ahead. But it was a really good ballgame up until they got those three runs against C.J. and I felt really good about him in that particular moment," Maddon said. "Moving forward that’s what you have to be able to do is execute in big moments. And we normally do. I cannot denigrate our group. Our group has been really good at executing pitches in big moments. We just didn’t do it today."
Spencer Patton allowed two walks and a hit-by-pitch in the ninth. Carter took full advantage by hitting a grand slam off the left field scoreboard to seal the deal.
The Cubs are 7-2 against the Brewers this season at home.
Maddon gave his regulars their second consecutive day off after his team clinched the NL Central on Thursday but said they will have a normal lineup on Sunday.
Arrieta has a couple starts left and would like to reach 20 wins, calling it the "benchmark" of starting pitchers. But he's also content with where things stand right now.
"Yeah, 20 is great, but at the same time the position I’m in with our team is more rewarding," Arrieta said. "It stinks to lose the game and to get the loss and to let the lead slip away the way I let it, but at the end of the day, come out here tomorrow, learn from it and get back to work."