MILWAUKEE (AP) — Standing in the dugout with hands on hips, Cubs starter Travis Wood looked a little worn and frustrated after a tough outing against the Brewers.
The left-hander had his worst start of the season Saturday night, giving up five runs and seven hits in 5 2/3 innings in Chicago’s 5-3 loss to Milwaukee.
Luis Valbuena and Wellington Castillo homered for the Cubs, who otherwise couldn’t solve the Brewers’ Marco Estrada in losing their fourth straight game.
“It was a grind and a battle tonight. I didn’t have my A-game, I was missing balls and falling behind hitters,” Wood said.
The lefty was coming off a 5-1 win over Arizona in his previous outing, when he gave up just six hits and a run with nine strikeouts. Wood even homered and had four RBIs in that game.
The Brewers got to Wood early with three runs in the first two innings. Wood (1-3) said he struggled at key times with keeping the ball down in the zone.
Jeff Bianchi had a two-run single, Khris Davis slugged a solo homer and Estrada had nine strikeouts in 7 2/3 strong innings for Milwaukee. Chicago is already 10½ games back in the NL Central behind the division-leading, which has the majors’ best record at 18-6.
“I have to bear down. A lot of baseball left. It’s easy to turn anything around,” Wood said. “We have to keep grinding.”
Bianchi went 2 for 4, entering the game as a pinch-hitter in the first for Jean Segura, who was hit in the head in the dugout by a bat.
A TV replay showed the All-Star getting hit on the right side of the head during a warmup swing by teammate Ryan Braun, who was facing the field on the top steps of the dugout while Segura was coming up behind him.
Manager Ron Roenicke said that Segura didn’t have a concussion or fractures, but needed stitches to close a gash on his face. It was unclear how long he might be out.
“Obviously, it’s never something that’s done intentionally,” Braun said. “Thank God from everything we’ve heard he’s OK.”
Braun himself later left after the eighth inning with slight chest muscle strain. He said he was day-to-day.
The injuries, particularly to Segura, overshadowed Estrada’s strong effort.
“It bugged me all game, but it’s one of those things you hope you can prevent. I know Braunny felt bad,” Roenicke said. “Bianchi came in and did a great job for him.”
Bianchi drove in two runs with a bases-loaded single in the second off Wood. Francisco Rodriguez tossed a 1-2-3 ninth for his 11th save.
Estrada (2-1) retired the first 10 hitters he faced — a few on fly balls deep into the outfield — before Valbuena turned on a 2-0 fastball for a solo homer to right.
The righty followed with another stretch of 10 straight retired, effectively mixing a changeup and curve with fastball in the high-80s.
He maintained control until giving up a two-run shot to Castillo in the eighth to get the Cubs within two. It was Castillo’s fourth homer of the year.
“We got a couple runs on the board, but it wasn’t enough to win the game, to give a chance to our pitcher to win the game,” Castillo said.
The Brewers have won seven of eight, taking games of late with a formula of pouncing on opposing starting pitchers early to make life easier for their pitchers. Estrada and his fellow starters have held up their end with a sub-2.00 ERA in their past six starts.
NOTES: Chicago placed struggling reliever Jose Veras on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left oblique before the game. RHP Brian Schlitter was recalled from Triple-A Iowa, and arrived in time for the game. Veras, who had a 15.88 ERA and blew both of his save opportunities. … The Cubs have lost seven of eight to Milwaukee dating to last season. … Rodriguez picked up his 315th career save, three behind Rick Aguilera for 17th place on the all-time list. … Chicago will try to avoid a sweep by sending Jason Hammel (3-1) to mound Sunday against Wily Peralta (3-0).
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