MILWAUKEE (AP) — Seiya Suzuki has wasted no time getting back on track since coming off the injured list.
Suzuki homered for the second straight night and had three RBIs as the Chicago Cubs overcame Kyle Hendricks early exit to beat the Milwaukee Brewers 8-3 on Tuesday.
Suzuki ripped a pitch well from the inside corner for a tiebreak, two-run shot in the fifth inning. That came one night after he had a… inside-the-park homer in the ninth to give Chicago a 2-1 lead, although the Cubs lost 5-2 in 10 innings. The team activated Suzuki off the injured list Monday after a sprained left ring finger caused him to miss about five weeks.
“He looks really comfortable,” said Cubs manager David Ross. “The timing is back, for me. I think Seiya looked as good as he started.”
The Cubs needed strength from Suzuki and precision from their bullpen to get over the loss of Hendricks, who left after three innings with a sore right shoulder. He threw 69 pitches, at a slightly slower pace than usual.
Hendricks said he was feeling good for the game, but as soon as he threw his first warm-up pitch at the start, he could tell something wasn’t right. The Cubs’ pitching staff is already at much less than full strength with Marcus Stroman, Drew Smyly, Wade Miley and Alec Mills on the injured list.
“There’s no point in pushing it,” Hendricks said. “It’s not something that’s so bad that it gets out of hand, but it’s just not great. Something I definitely need to get checked to see what it’s all about.”
Chicago’s bullpen has been ramped up in Hendricks’ absence. Matt Swarmer (2-3), Rowan Wick and Michael Rucker combined for only one run in the last six innings.
Most of Milwaukee’s transgression stemmed from Rowdy Tellez’s home run on two runs at Hendricks in the first inning. Tellez’ last 10 hits went for extra bases, equaling a 2002 Brewers record set by Ryan Thompson.
After starter Jason Alexander (2-1) held Chicago scoreless in the first three innings, the Cubs added a total of eight runs over the next three frames to turn a 2-0 deficit into an 8-2 advantage.
“A lot of unfortunate things just happened,” Alexander said. “A lot of ground balls that were just a bit out of reach or just a bit misplaced where we couldn’t make a game. And that just happens, you know? Sometimes you are unlucky.”
The Cubs scored a run in the fourth without hitting the ball out of the infield. After loading the bases on a walk, a hit batter and an infield single, Patrick Wisdom scored from third base when Nelson Velázquez grounded out.
Chicago took the lead with three runs in the fifth.
The rally started when Brewers shortstop Willy Adames fielded an one-out grounder and threw wild to first, bringing Nico Hoerner to second base on the error. Hoerner scored the tying run when Ian Happ grounded out past third baseman Luis Urías and went into the corner of leftfield for a double.
Suzuki then lined up a sinker from the first pitch and sent it just to the right of the foul post in left field.
The Cubs increased its lead to 8-2 in the sixth when Rafael Ortega drove in two runs and Alexander knocked out of the game with a triple into the rightfield corner. Ortega scored as part of a double steal with Happ. Suzuki’s single to the left brought Happ home.
Alexander gave up seven runs – six earned – and eight hits in 5 1/3 innings. He struck out two and walked two.
“We didn’t play well enough in defense to take some runs off the board early on, and then we sent him there for the sixth and unfortunately that inning kind of fell apart,” said Brewers manager Craig Counsell.
Milwaukee loaded the bases when Swarmer led off the sixth inning with three consecutive walks, but the Brewers failed to capitalize. Wick took over, eliminating Urías on a liner and Jace Peterson on a double-play grounder.
“That’s as good as I’ve seen Ro in a long time,” Ross said.
Cubs C Willson Contreras was out of the lineup after he left in the 10th inning on Monday due to a tight hamstring. Ross said Contreras is day to day.
The three-game series will conclude on Wednesday-afternoon as Corbin Burnes (7-4, 2.36 ERA) pitched for the Brewers and Adrian Sampson (0-0, 3.38) starts for the Cubs in a righthanded matchup.
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports