Baseball / Sports

Injury-haunted Brewers turn back Cubs

MILWAUKEE -- The Milwaukee Brewers continued their winning ways Saturday night.

This time, however, the victory came with a price.

First, the Brewers watched Ryan Braun inadvertently smack teammate Jean Segura in the face with a bat in the dugout. Then, before the night was over, Braun left the game with a right intercostal strain (area between ribs).

Accordingly, it was a Pyrrhic victory of sorts when the Brewers emerged with a 5-3 victory over the Chicago Cubs before 40,008 fans at Miller Park, boosting their major league-best record to 18-6.

The Brewers didn't think either player was headed to the disabled list but both could miss some time, especially Segura, who had a plastic surgeon stitch up a big laceration under his right eye. With backup catcher Martin Maldonado serving the final game of his five-game suspension Sunday, the Brewers likely will be three players short in the series finale against the Cubs.

"We'll have a two-man bench and see what they can do," manager Ron Roenicke said.

The injuries put a damper on an otherwise positive night for the Brewers, who got another strong pitching performance from starter Marco Estrada and back-up from their impenetrable bullpen. Estrada went 7 2/3 innings, allowing only four hits and three runs, with no walks and nine strikeouts.

If not for two ill-placed pitches, it would have been a cruise-control night for Estrada and the Brewers. He allowed a one-out home run in the fourth inning to Luis Valbuena -- the first Cub to reach base -- and a two-run shot by Wellington Castillo in the eighth that made it a 5-3 game.

"You can't be mad; we won," Estrada said. "When the team wins, you have to be happy. I'm happy with the way I pitched today. I don't like the pitch I threw to Castillo; it's upsetting. But we won. It was a great team win."

Estrada was nearby when Segura was struck in the face by Braun's bat and admitted he had to shake that off when he went back to the mound.

"I saw the whole thing," said Estrada (2-1, 2.87 ERA). "Obviously, you never want to see a teammate get hurt, especially like that. It was pretty tough. But once I found out he was doing OK, I focused back on the game."

Another Brewer who had to immediately focus after Segura went down was infielder Jeff Bianchi. Manager Ron Roenicke told him he was in the game and before he knew it, Bianchi was standing in the on-deck circle.

One never would have known Bianchi had no time to prepare. His first-inning single helped the Brewers score early against Cubs lefty Travis Wood and his two-run, bases-loaded single with two down in the second was the big blow of the game for the victors.

"It was unexpected. You never really expect to go in, in the first inning," Bianchi said. "That's my role, to be ready. I was able to capitalize on the four at-bats and we got a big win. Marco pitched a fantastic game.

"I don't think a lot of guys saw it at first. I didn't see what happened. I just saw (Segura) on the ground. Guys were saying, 'Jeff, Jeff, get ready.' I walked by him and he was on the ground, not moving. That's hard to see, especially when you don't know what happened.

"I kind of had to collect myself and get in the on-deck circle, knowing I was up next. It feels being able to contribute to a victory like that."

After Castillo's homer in the eighth made it a two-run game, Roenicke went to his ever-reliable bullpen. Will Smith struck out the only batter he faced that inning and Francisco Rodriguez again took care of the ninth, setting a first-month club record with his 11th save in 11 chances.

"We won the game, which is most important," said Braun, who wasn't sure what his playing status would be Sunday. "We'll find a way to come out and win another game tomorrow."

(c)2014 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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