Jorge Soler stays hot as Cubs extend Brewers’ skid
CHICAGO — The young-and-coming Chicago Cubs are having so much fun these days, they wish the season was just starting, not ending.
With five rookies in the lineup, the Cubs beat Milwaukee 6-2 on Wednesday night to complete their first three-game sweep of the Brewers since Aug. 23-25, 2004.
Rookie Jorge Soler had a two-run double to become the second player in Cubs history with as many as 10 RBIs in his first seven games, while Kyle Hendricks pitched into the sixth inning to earn his fifth straight victory.
“There’s a lot of energy,” Hendricks said of the clubhouse these days. “When I came up, there wasn’t a lack of energy, but it’s almost as if we’re expecting to win more, I guess. … We won in the minor leagues, so we’ve had that bred into us that we need to win and want to win.”
Hendricks (6-1) received the Rookie of the Month Award for August before the game, then he limited the Brewers to two runs in 5 2/3 innings. The right-hander admittedly didn’t have his best stuff — he allowed nine hits — but he didn’t walk a batter and was able to get key outs.
The Cubs batted around in the third, when they scored four times to take a 6-1 lead. Soler began the onslaught with a two-run double, his ninth and 10 RBIs of the season. The 22-year-old Cuban joined Mandy Brooks, who had 12 RBIs in 1925, as the only Chicago players to accomplish that feat.
Welington Castillo followed with a run-scoring, ground-rule double, and one out later, rookie Logan Watkins hit an RBI single to cap the rally.
“(Soler) has got a gift. He has got a good eye,” manager Rick Renteria said. “If Kyle is my guy who’s got a slow heartbeat on the hill, then maybe he’s my guy who really slows it down in the box.”
Chicago never trailed after rookie Chris Valaika hit a two-run homer off ex-Cub Matt Garza to put it ahead 2-1 in the second. The blast to deep left field followed Watkins’ two-out single.
“It’s exciting to have all the young guys up here,” Valaika said. “Hopefully, we can keep this going right into next year.”
Milwaukee concluded a 1-8 road trip with its eighth straight loss to fall three games behind St. Louis in the NL Central race.
In his first start in 31 days, Garza (7-8) failed to get past the third inning. He had been on the disabled list because of a strained left oblique.
The right-hander allowed six runs on eight hits and one walk. He also was the victim of some shoddy defense and a few well-placed hits.
“We’re not playing well enough to do it on our side, and (the Cubs) they are,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. “They’re playing good baseball, and when you do, you get breaks.”
Brewers: OF Carlos Gomez will not take part in physical activity until Sunday at the earliest. He sat out his third straight game because of a sprained left wrist and could be out of action until until mid-September. INF Mark Reynolds and Jason Rogers were available to play in the outfield if necessary.
Cubs: Results of X-rays and an MRI revealed SS Starlin Castro suffered a high ankle sprain on a slide into home during a 7-1 win against the Brewers on Tuesday night. General manager Jed Hoyer said Castro hoped to beat the 4-week prognosis to return but his season was likely over. … 1B Anthony Rizzo remains out indefinitely with a strained lower back. … 3b Mike Olt began a two-game rehab assignment with Class-A Kane County on Wednesday night. … OF Ryan Sweeney (strained left hamstring) was transferred to the 60-day disabled list, which effectively ended his season. The contract of OF Ryan Kalish was selected from the Triple-A club.
The Brewers return home to meet St. Louis in a crucial four-game series. RHP Wily Peralta (15-9, 3.82) and Cardinals RHP Michael Wacha (5-5, 2.79) are the scheduled starters Thursday night. After an open date, the Cubs will send LHP Tsuyoshi Wada (4-2, 2.79) to the mound against Pittsburgh RHP Vance Worley (6-4, 3.01) in the first game of a three-game set on Friday afternoon.
NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK
The Cubs improved to 22-15 since July 18. At the start of the day, they owned the best record in the division and the seventh-best mark in the majors in that span.
BREWERS MOURN SEID
A moment of silence was observed before the game in honor of Brewers amateur scouting director Bruce Seid, 53, who passed away unexpectedly on Tuesday. He had been with the organization for 17 years.
*Photo courtesy of Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images