Baseball / Sports

Brewers' Mike Fiers strikes out 14 in dominating start, defeat Cubs

CHICAGO -- Mike Fiers' remarkable resurgence continued Thursday afternoon.

Making his second start in place of the injured Matt Garza, the 29-year-old right-hander struck out a career-high 14 while allowing just three hits over six shutout innings to lead the Milwaukee Brewers to a 6-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.

Fiers (2-1) struck out the side on three different occasions on the day en route to becoming the first Brewers pitcher to record double-digit strikeouts since Sept. 30, 2012. It just so happened to be Fiers who accomplished the feat last time as well, 286 games ago.

The 14 strikeouts tied Yovani Gallardo and Moose Haas for the second-most strikeouts in franchise history, behind Ben Sheets' 18.

Including his eight-inning victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers last Saturday, Fiers has now allowed a total of six hits, one run and two walks to go along with 19 strikeouts since joining the Brewers' rotation.

His overall earned-run average, which includes four relief appearances from earlier this season, dropped to 1.29.

The Brewers, who won despite Ryan Braun, Aramis Ramirez and Jean Segura all sitting out, also increased their lead in the NL Central Division thanks to the Pittsburgh Pirates' loss earlier in the day.

Cubs starter Edwin Jackson struck out a season-high 11 in seven shutout innings against the Brewers at Wrigley Field on May 17.

He got off to a rocky start in this one when, after issuing consecutive two-out walks to Jonathan Lucroy and Khris Davis, Scooter Gennett banged a double off the wall in right-center to give the Brewers a quick 2-0 lead.

Fiers, on the other hand, established himself from the outset.

He struck out Chris Coghlan and Javier Baez in the bottom of the first, then fanned the side in the second. After Davis cut through the wind with a line-drive, two-out solo homer to left to make it 3-0 in the third, Fiers then opened the bottom half by striking out Welington Castillo and Jackson.

He received a couple more runs to work with in the top of the fourth when Elian Herrera tripled in Lyle Overbay, who'd singled, and Carlos Gomez singled in Herrera with two outs to make it 5-0.

Fiers began the bottom of the fourth by fanning Baez for the second time, then got Anthony Rizzo -- who'd accounted for the Cubs' lone hit to that point with a double in the first -- to tap out to him.

After finishing off the fourth by inducing a flyout to left by Luis Valbuena, Fiers continued his mastery for two more innings by striking out the side in the fifth and the sixth. Castillo drew a two-out walk in the fifth only to see Fiers strike out reliever Justin Turner, then after a two-out single by Rizzo in the sixth, Fiers fanned Starlin Castro.

At 106 pitches, Fiers' day was done at that point. With 14 strikeouts, he joined the likes of Felix Hernandez, Clayton Kershaw, Jon Lester, Jose Fernandez and Max Scherzer to record that many or more in a game this season.

He also tied Yovani Gallardo (July 15, 2021) and Moose Haas (April 12, 1978) for the second-most strikeouts in a single game in franchise history. Ben Sheets set the record by fanning 18 Atlanta Braves at Miller Park on May 16, 2004.

Zach Duke replaced Fiers and got the first two outs in the seventh before Justin Ruggiano singled and Castillo reached on a two-base throwing error by Herrera. Pinch-hitter Chris Valaika followed with a pinch-hit, two-run single to left to cut Milwaukee's lead to 5-2.

Milwaukee got one of those runs back in the eighth when Mark Reynolds drilled his team-leading 21st homer to left off Kyuji Fujikawa, and Will Smith and Jeremy Jeffress pitched scoreless innings in the eighth and ninth.

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