The Brewers got seven RBI from Jonathan Lucroy and a career-high five hits from Rickie Weeks on Thursday. What they didn’t get was a victory, as Milwaukee pitchers walked 11 batters and blew leads of 9-3 in the sixth and 11-9 in the ninth in a 12-11 loss to the Cubs.
The latest huge letdown from the Milwaukee pen came on a day in which closer John Axford was unavailable. Francisco Rodriguez gave up three runs in the ninth to take his seventh blown save and seventh loss.
Lucroy, incredibly, delivered his second seven-RBI game of the season in a losing cause. He had a grand slam off Cubs starter Brooks Riley and three hits in all. Lucroy is the 24th player since 1918 to amass two seven-RBI games in a season, joining such luminaries as Lou Gehrig (3 times in 1930 and twice in 1934), Babe Ruth (1929), Jimmie Foxx (1933 and ’38) and Ralph Kiner (1950 and ’51). Ben Zobrist was the last to do it in 2011. Before him, it was done by Derrek Lee in 2009 and Cody Ross in 2006.
Lucroy was the fourth player in the last five years to drive in seven runs in a losing cause, joining Kansas City’s Jose Guillen (2008 against NYY), Minnesota’s Justin Morneau (2009 against Oakland) and Philadelphia’s Carlos Ruiz (2012 against Atlanta). He’s the first player in Brewers history to pull it off.
The Cubs won the game without the benefit of a homer. They did have six doubles, two each from David DeJesus, Anthony Rizzo and Brett Jackson, and a triple from Starlin Castro. Alfonso Soriano delivered the game-winner in the ninth.
Riley was let off the hook after allowing seven runs and 10 hits in four innings. He’s expected to be shut down for the rest of the season, leaving him with an 8.14 ERA in five starts as a rookie. Brewers starter Shaun Marcum returned from the DL only to leave with a calf injury after allowing three runs in four innings.
The Arizona Fall League competition came to a close on Saturday, concluding with the Peoria Javelinas’ 8-2 win over the Mesa Solar Sox for the championship title. No one stood out more than Braves’ no. 1 prospect Ronald Acuna, who took home honors as the AFL MVP after slashing .325/.414/.639 with a league-leading seven home runs and second-best 1.053 OPS in 83 at-bats.
At just 19 years old, Acuna is the youngest prospect to receive the award. He made his presence felt even before he suited up for the AFL, earning promotions to the Braves’ Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett and batting a remarkable .325/.374/.522 with 21 home runs across three levels in 2017.
Acuna was also a major factor in the Javelinas’ win on Saturday, but he wasn’t the first to make some noise. The Solar Sox got to right-hander T.J. Zeuch in the first inning, leading off with three singles and a run-scoring sac fly to get a 2-0 edge over the Javelinas. It was the only lead they’d get all afternoon and it lasted just two innings. Luis Urias snapped the shutout with a sac fly in the bottom of the second inning, and the Javelinas took the lead with a game-tying RBI single from Acuna and two-run base hit from Braves’ no. 16 prospect Alex Jackson in the third.
From then on, it was smooth sailing for Peoria. Andrew Case, Andres Munoz and Art Warren combined for 3 1/3 scoreless innings in relief, while the offense tacked on another handful of runs with Acuna’s fourth-inning two-RBI single and Michael Chavis’ eighth-inning triple. With runners at the corners and one out, the Solar Sox lifted right-hander Dakota Bacus for fellow righty Nolan Blackwood. Even he was flummoxed by Acuna, however, who grabbed hold of the first pitch he saw and returned another sac fly to center field for the Javelinas’ eighth and final run of the game.
Only 131 days left until Opening Day, folks.