Jason Heyward, Ildemaro Vargas homers spark Cubs’ rally in win over Brewers
The message in the Cubs’ dugout was reverberated all night.
Even when the situation looked incredibly dire, that memo continued to echo throughout the Cubs’ dugout in Milwaukee. And, boy, did it come true.
Trailing in the 9th inning with arguably the best bullpen arm in baseball, Josh Hader, on the mound, the Cubs continued to compete and Jason Heyward and Ildemaro Vargas hit back-to-back home runs to steal a 4-2 win from the Brewers.
“That’s why we play 9 innings,” Cubs’ starter Kyle Hendricks said. “Our guys never quit. They were saying it on the bench the whole game; compete, keep competing, compete for 9 innings. That’s what they did.”
The situation seemed tailor-made for Craig Counsell and the Brewers as he turned to Josh Hader for the second night in a row to shutout the Cubs. Counsell turned to Hader with Kyle Schwarber, Javy Báez and Victor Caratini due up. The trio was a combined 1-for-24 against Hader.
Hader got Schwarber to foul a bunt attempt with 2 strikes to get the first out. Then Báez laced an opposite field single, his second of the night. David Ross pinch hit Anthony Rizzo for Caratini and he singled to move Báez to third.
That set the stage for Heyward.
Hader threw a fastball inside and Heyward crushed it to right-center to give the Cubs the lead.
“We know he has some weapons and we know we gotta keep it simple and take what he gives us,” Heyward said. “I knew I had to be on time, be early. He threw a fastball, in a good spot for me to just stay short and a guy like that’s supplying power, you know if you take a short swing and you make a good pass at it, it’s got a good chance to get outta here.”
Vargas crushed a ball to left field to give the Cubs some insurance.
“It’s something that’s very important to me, I know that every win counts and matters for this baseball club,” Vargas said. “I’m really happy to help and contribute.”
It was just the fourth time in Hader’s big league career he had allowed 2 home runs in an appearance and only the second time he had given up back-to-back homers. On July 19, 2018, Starlin Castro and Brian Anderson hit back-to-back home runs off Hader in the Marlins’ 4-3 win over the Brewers.
Kyle Hendricks was stellar on the mound for the Cubs. Hendricks struck out 7 and allowed 6 hits in 7.2 innings of work.
“I feel like I’m in a really good spot right now,” Hendricks said. “I was aggressive, attacking, getting ahead of guys early, got some quick outs. I feel like I’m in a good spot right now, [Willson Contreras has] been keeping me there so I just gotta keep working on the things I’ve been working on.”
Craig Kimbrel came in the 9th to pick up his second save of the season. He allowed back-to-back singles to start the inning, but struck out Vogelbach, induced a force out at third and then got Orlando Arcia to lineout to end the game.
“First two guys getting on, he never wavered, never sped up, continued to throw strikes, attack the hitters,” Ross said. “Nice night all around for everybody.”
For 8 innings, it seemed as though the Brewers bullpen had the Cubs’ number.
Starter Brett Anderson was scratched prior to the game and the Brewers turned to Brent Suter and their pen to try and shutout the Cubs’ bats for the second night in a row. Suter was strong, striking out 6 in 3 innings of work.
Freddy Peralta, Eric Yardley, Alex Claudio and Devin Williams combined to blank the Cubs for the next 5 innings.
“It sends good vibes our way, it gives us momentum,” Ross said of the win. “That’s an easy one to give away. Really good bullpen they ran at us there and guys continue to have good at-bats.
Alec Mills takes the mound Sunday in the series finale as the Cubs look to avoid the sweep. Coverage begins at 12 p.m. on Marquee Sports Network.
- Jason Kipnis, who hadn’t played since September 8, made a pinch-hit appearance in the 8th for Nico Hoerner and played second base the rest of the game.
- Cameron Maybin was scheduled to start in left, but was scratched before the game as he’s dealing with a stomach bug.