MILWAUKEE (AP) — One big swing from Jason Heyward kept the Chicago Cubs in first place in the NL Central.
Heyward homered in the 11th inning, and the Cubs edged the Milwaukee Brewers, 2-1, on Saturday night.
Kris Bryant had three hits as the Cubs improved to 12-3 since the All-Star break. Kyle Hendricks pitched five innings of one-run ball in his second start since coming off the disabled list after being sidelined by pain in the middle finger of his right hand.
Second-place Milwaukee pulled within a half-game of Chicago with a 2-1 victory in the series opener Friday night. But the Cubs responded with their fourth win in five games overall.
“We can always say we want to come through hitting, that’s a no-brainer,” Heyward said. “But you’re going to face good pitching, especially when you’re familiar with the team you’re facing, playing in the same division, tight race there. But pitching and defense are going to be huge — 2-1 last night, 2-1 tonight. It’s nice to come through.”
Heyward drove a 1-1 slider from Jared Hughes (3-3) over the wall in right-center for his eighth homer with one out in the 11th.
“I wish I could have that one back right there,” Hughes said. “I felt good with my slider, but I missed over the plate and Heyward went down and did a good job of hitting it hard.”
All-Star closer Wade Davis got three outs for his 21st save in 21 chances, striking out pinch hitter Jonathan Villar with a runner on first for the final out. Mike Montgomery (3-6) worked the 10th for the win, wiggling out of a jam by retiring Hernan Perez on a fly ball to left with two runners on base.
Six Cubs relievers combined for six innings of one-hit ball.
Milwaukee grabbed the lead when Eric Thames singled and scored on Ryan Braun’s double in the first. But Chicago responded with Bryant’s two-out RBI single in the seventh against Jacob Barnes.
Brewers right-hander Junior Guerra was pulled after he labored through three scoreless innings. He allowed one hit, but walked four.
The Cubs loaded the bases with two outs in the third on two walks and an error, but Guerra escaped thanks to a diving catch by center fielder Lewis Brinson.
“He got out of it, to his credit,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “But if you keep pitching like that it is going to be tough to put zeros on the board.”
Josh Hader followed Guerra with three sparkling innings, striking out six and allowing just one hit. The Brewers finished with a season-high 17 strikeouts.
Both teams left 11 runners on base and were a combined 1 for 13 with runners in scoring position. The lone hit was Bryant’s single in the seventh.
“We’ve got to do a much better job,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “I am just disappointed in that lack of contact, the lack of adjustments. We have to get better with that or we’re not going anywhere offensively.”
END OF THE LINE
The Brewers designated right-hander Wily Peralta for assignment and selected the contract of outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis from Triple-A Colorado Springs.
Peralta won 17 games with a 3.53 ERA in 2014. But he is 5-4 with a 7.85 ERA in 19 games, eight starts, this season.
SHIFTING THE ROTATION
Maddon will change the Cubs’ rotation to allow Jon Lester to attend his uncle’s funeral Wednesday. Lester will start Tuesday’s series opener against the Diamondbacks with Jake Arrieta bumping back to Wednesday.
Cubs: OF Kyle Schwarber was back in the lineup after appearing in a pinch-hitting role in the series opener. The light day on Friday was scheduled and did not have to do with the back stiffness Schwarber has been battling, according to Maddon.
Brewers: RHP Chase Anderson (left oblique strain) reported feeling no pain after throwing a 36-pitch bullpen session in which he threw all his pitches. The next step for Anderson is to throw 40 to 50 pitches in the bullpen in the coming days.
Cubs: RHP John Lackey (7-9, 4.97 ERA) will look to continue his post-All-Star break success when he starts the series finale Sunday. The veteran is 2-0 with a 2.70 ERA over his past two starts. Lackey is 5-3 with a 3.49 ERA in his career against Milwaukee.
Brewers: RHP Zach Davies (12-4, 4.45 ERA) has struggled in his career against the Cubs, posting a 4.62 ERA in seven starts. He has turned his season around of late, going 5-0 with a 2.54 ERA over his last six outings.
(© 2017 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.)