Corey Knebel’s hamstring injury compounds painful loss to Cubs
MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs are suddenly trending in opposite directions.
After being held scoreless for 19 consecutive innings, the Cubs quelled some concerns about their sputtering offense.
Thanks to the production by the bottom half of their batting order and the ineffectiveness of Milwaukee starter Brent Suter, the Cubs surged to an 8-0 victory over the Brewers on Thursday night at Miller Park.
The loss was the Brewers’ second straight by shutout. Milwaukee has been outscored by the St. Louis Cardinals and Cubs 26-9 over the past four games and has lost three of four since a 3-0 start.
But this loss could prove the most painful for Milwaukee.
The Brewers, who were without the services of star outfielder Christian Yelich because of stiffness to an oblique, lost closer Corey Knebel in the ninth.
Knebel, who surrendered a home run to Jason Heyward, fell hard after delivering a pitch to Tommy La Stella. Knebel couldn’t put pressure on his left leg while being assisted off the mound.
Manager Craig Counsell’s mood was grim after the game, noting a trip to the disabled list is on tap for the right-hander.
“We’ll have an MRI tomorrow for sure. It’s a DL for sure,” Counsell said, adding “... but we’ll know the scenario for sure tomorrow.”
The mood was similarly grim in the locker room.
“Obviously, you don’t want to see that happen, especially in that type of game when he’s just trying to get some work in,” Brewers reliever Jacob Barnes told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “It was not fun to watch. We can only hope for the best with that. It didn’t look good.”
Suter didn’t see anything unusual in Knebel’s delivery.
“I didn’t see anything in terms of his landing that seemed different. It just looked like his hamstring popped or something,” Suter said of Knebel, 26, a first-time All-Star last season when he saved 39 games. “I don’t know, but it’s not good news.”
Counsell said a fresh arm would be recalled today from Class AAA Colorado Springs.
Earlier, Willson Contreras ignited Cubs rallies in the second and third innings with singles. Albert Almora Jr. hit an RBI triple in the third and scored on a hit by Addison Russell.
Javier Baez hit a two-run single in the second, then advanced to third on an error by Brewers second baseman Hernan Perez and scored when Lorenzo Cain bobbled the ball in shallow center field.
Heyward came off the bench as part of a double switch in the eighth and hit a two-run home run off Knebel in the ninth.
Left-hander Jon Lester, pitching on six days’ rest, limited the Brewers to three hits over six innings.
The Brewers’ Ryan Braun drew a walk and stole second without a throw from Lester in the first. But when Braun tried the same play attempting to steal third Lester bounced a throw to Kris Bryant, who tagged Braun for the final out.
Lester (1-0) allowed three hits, struck out six and walked one for Chicago, which played for the first time since Monday. The Cubs were rained out in Cincinnati on Tuesday and were off on Wednesday.
Cubs relievers Carl Edwards Jr., Steve Cishek and Eddie Butler each pitched an inning.
Suter (1-1) pitched five innings and allowed five runs on eight hits and three walks.
“It’s one game and it’s a tough loss and all that but prayers are going out for Corey and his well-being. He’s in some pain right now,” Suter said.
Milwaukee third baseman Travis Shaw left early — an animated argument got him ejected in the sixth.
Shaw disagreed with plate umpire Brian O’Nora’s called third strike and walked to the dugout. He turned, said more to O’Nora and was tossed. Shaw then sprinted toward the umpire to have one final say before being restrained.
The Cubs will throw right-hander Kyle Hendricks (0-0), who is 4-1 in eight starts in Milwaukee, in the second game of the series Friday night.
Right-hander Brandon Woodruff (0-0) will make his first start of the season for the Brewers.