CHICAGO -- You cannot point to one area of the Milwaukee Brewers as the reason for their shocking fall from grace in the National League Central Division.
This has been a complete collapse.
The pitching, offense and defense took another game off Tuesday night at Wrigley Field, leading to an embarrassing 7-1 loss to the last-place Chicago Cubs. The seventh consecutive loss on this trip from hell dropped the former division leaders two games behind the St. Louis Cardinals, who will come calling at Miller Park on Thursday.
Does anyone even remember that this three-city nightmare began with a 10-1 thumping of the San Diego Padres?
That victory remained a distant memory as the Brewers again looked listless with so much on the line. Starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo was tagged for eight hits and seven runs (five earned), his defense did him no favors and Cubs right-hander Jake Arrieta (six innings, one run) became the latest starting pitcher to shut down the Brewers' vanishing offense.
After leading the division for nearly the entire season, the Brewers have looked completely out of gas during this heinous skid. They have been outscored during the seven games, 49-14, which makes you wonder when they'll get to newly acquired setup man Jonathan Broxton with a lead.
The last thing the Brewers needed was an awful start to the game, but that's exactly what happened as the Cubs scored four runs in the bottom of the first. It started with a one-out walk to Javier Baez, followed by singles from Starlin Castro, Luis Valbuena and Jorge Soler, the last two of which delivered runs.
The inning should have ended there on a double-play grounder by Welington Castillo, but substitute shortstop Elian Herrera booted it as Valbuena came around to score. Arismendy Alcantara hit a grounder to first baseman Lyle Overbay, who got the force at second, but Herrera's return throw to Gallardo covering first base was wide for another run-scoring error.
So, a team in desperate need of something good happening instead fell behind, 4-0, against one of the Cubs' best pitchers. The Brewers committed another embarrassing play in the second when second baseman Scooter Gennett and centerfielder Gerardo Parra allowed Logan Watkins' pop fly to drop between them, but Gallardo pitched out of that jam.
Even while scoring a run off Arrieta in the fourth, the Brewers let a chance for a bigger inning slip away. With one down, Gennett, Jonathan Lucroy and Ryan Braun singled to make it a 4-1 game.
The rally quickly fizzled, however, when the Brewers put on the hit-and-run play and Aramis Ramirez swung through an inside pitch. Braun was thrown out at second and Ramirez lined out to right, forcing the Brewers to settle for the one run.
Herrera bounced back from his two errors in the first to make a sensational play on a liner by Chris Valaika into the hole in the fourth inning. Herrera knocked it down and threw out Valaika from his knees, though umpire Mark Carlson called him safe before it was overturned on video replay.
Gallardo couldn't get the ball down in the fifth inning and paid dearly for it. Valbuena and Castillo smacked doubles to left, tacking another run on the Cubs' lead. When Alcantara followed with a two-run shot into the bleachers in right, Chicago had broken open the game, 7-1.
The Brewers' offensive frustrations continued as they stranded two runners in the sixth, seventh and ninth innings. The only highlight was September call-up Jason Rogers making his big-league debut as a pinch hitter in the seventh and delivering an opposite-field double on a 0-2 pitch from reliever Wesley Wright.
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