MILWAUKEE (AP) – Milwaukee tweaked its top of the batting order recently and it has been paying off. On Friday night, the rest of the Brewers’ lineup joined in on the fun.
Ryan Braun homered to highlight a five-run first inning and the Brewers beat the Chicago Cubs 11-5 on Friday night.
“Everybody’s swinging the bat well,” Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke said, “and there’s no doubt when everybody is hitting like this and there are mistakes made, we’re not missing them like we were earlier.”
Braun had three hits and three RBIs for Milwaukee, which has won 25 of its last 31 games against Chicago. Rickie Weeks and Martin Maldonado had three hits and two RBIs each as the Brewers scored a season-high runs in its most lopsided victory of the year.
“You’ve got to cherish moments like this when you come out swinging and it lasts the whole game,” Weeks said. “It’s always a good thing.”
Marco Estrada (5-2) allowed three earned runs and six hits in six innings.
Travis Wood (5-5) turned in his shortest outing of the season when he lasted only 2 2-3 innings. He gave up 10 hits and seven earned runs for the Cubs (19-33), who have the worst record in the majors.
“They hit everything I threw up there,” said Wood, who allowed two hits and struck out seven in seven innings of a 4-2 victory over Milwaukee on May 18. “It didn’t matter what I threw. They were hacking early and they got to me. … Three pitches into it, I was two runs downs. It’s tough to get into a rhythm there.”
Chicago, shut out in its last two games at San Francisco, ended its scoreless streak at 22 innings.
“We scored a couple of runs but we fell behind the 8 ball early, and it was just kind of tough to recover,” Chicago manager Rick Renteria said.
The change to the top of Milwaukee’s lineup has paid dividends.
Jean Segura has batted leadoff the last eight games and is 14 for 38 (.368) with seven runs scored during that time.
Braun has hit second in each of the last six games and is 13 for 27 (.481) with seven RBIs. Before this season he had not batted anywhere in the starting lineup but third since Sept. 30, 2010.
And Carlos Gomez batted cleanup for his seventh straight game – Aramis Ramirez is on the disabled list – and is 13 for 27 with one homer and eight RBIs. He led off his first 42 games this season.
Against Chicago, they were a combined 4 for 5 with a walk in the first two innings to help Milwaukee take a 6-0 lead.
“We just need to do what works for us,” Segura said. “This is good for us.”
All three reached base in the first, as Chicago allowed five runs in an inning for the first time since April 12, against St. Louis.
“When you come out in the first inning like we did, that’s outstanding,” Roenicke said. “It allows your pitcher to do some different things, and then we added to it, which a lot of times we’ve been scoring in the first inning or second inning and then we don’t do much the rest of the game.”
On the first pitch of the game, Segura reached on an infield single. Two pitches later, Braun’s blast sailed over the wall in right-center field for his eighth homer – and first at Miller Park.
“When you get guys on base early, things usually escalate pretty well after that,” Weeks said.
Gomez walked and scored on a double by Khris Davis for a 3-0 lead. Weeks followed with a run-scoring single before Maldonado gave Milwaukee a 5-0 lead with a two-out double.
In the second, Gomez extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a single that drove in Braun for the six-run lead.
A four-run fifth padded Milwaukee’s lead to 11-2.
“It makes things a little easier, especially when I’m kind of scuffling,” Estrada said. “My last two outings before this I’ve kind of been all over the place. Tonight I just felt much better. I located better, but still walked four guys and can’t keep doing stuff like that.”
NOTES: Ramirez will begin a rehab assignment Sunday with the Class-A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. … Chicago’s 20 road losses are the most in the NL. … Braun moved into sole possession of fourth place on the franchise’s all-time RBI list with 707. … Wood was trying to become the fourth Cubs’ pitcher in the last 20 years with five victories in May. … Milwaukee tied a team record by collecting at least 10 hits in its ninth straight game. … Starlin Castro has reached safely in his last 14 games at Miller Park dating to Aug. 22, 2012. … Chicago is 7-25 at Miller Park since the start of the 2011 season.