The Milwaukee Brewers are starting to get the kind of stellar pitching performances they’ll need for a successful late playoff run.
Christian Yelich scored on Ryan Braun’s ninth-inning sacrifice fly, Brandon Woodruff pitched seven innings of one-hit ball and the Brewers beat the Chicago Cubs 1-0 on Friday night as they tried to climb back into postseason contention.
“This is our time to go,” Woodruff said. “We’re going to have to start playing well.”
Woodruff, Devin Williams and Josh Hader (1-1) combined on a two-hitter with 16 strikeouts. That followed Corbin Burnes working seven innings and allowing just one hit in a 19-0 rout of Detroit on Wednesday.
The Brewers have pitched consecutive shutouts for the first time since Aug. 31 and Sept. 1 last year against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Milwaukee pitchers extended their overall scoreless streak to 19 innings.
“If we can find a way to sneak into this postseason, I certainly wouldn’t want to face (Woodruff) and Corbin in the first two games of a series,” Braun said.
The Brewers were beginning their final homestand as they bid for a third straight postseason appearance, which would be a franchise first.
Milwaukee is third in the NL Central at 20-22, four games back of the division-leading Cubs and one game behind St. Louis. The Brewers started a six-day stretch of eight games against the Cubs and Cardinals.
“It was a great team win for sure tonight,” Woodruff said. “We needed that one.”
Yelich walked leading off the ninth, and took third on Jedd Gyorko’s single to right off Rowan Wick (0-1), just the fourth hit for the Brewers.
Braun greeted Jeremy Jeffress with a fly to right fielder Jason Heyward a few steps in front of the warning track. Yelich scored without a throw.
“Got to make guys swing the bat,” Cubs manager David Ross said of the leadoff walk. “It’s tough. Tough one there, and you got kind of a jam shot to right from Gyorko.”
Former All-Stars Jon Lester and Woodruff matched up in a pitcher’s duel following frustrating stretches.
Lester entered with a 5.80 ERA and had allowed at least five earned runs in four of his previous five starts. He had a season-high eight strikeouts and yielded only three hits over six innings against a lineup that had a franchise-record 13 extra-base hits in Wednesday’s blowout of the Tigers.
“I don’t want to say we reinvented the wheel and we found some magical cure or anything, but the adjustments that we did make in my bullpen, the stuff just translated better and then we continued to work on that leading up to tonight,” Lester said. “And obviously the results were good.”
Woodruff had lasted just 4 1/3 innings in his prior start, a 4-3 loss at Cleveland, and said “not getting through five innings is kind of a disgrace.”
This time, Woodruff allowed his only hit when Ian Happ singled to left center leading off the sixth. Woodruff matched a career high with 12 strikeouts and didn’t walk anyone, though he did hit two batters.
“It’s not that I’d been pitching bad,” Woodruff said. “I just hadn’t been pitching the way I want to. I think tonight was getting back to who I am.”
Kris Bryant hit a two-out triple in the eighth off the wall in right-center, but Williams struck out Anthony Rizzo. Opposing batters had gone hitless in 31 at-bats against Williams dating to Kyle Schwarber’s double on Aug. 14.
The Cubs recalled left-hander Rex Brothers from their alternate training site in South Bend, Indiana. They optioned right-hander Adbert Alzolay to South Bend.
Ross said Jason Kipnis is “dealing with a little something” he didn’t specify, explaining why the second baseman hasn’t played since Tuesday. Ross said Kipnis will play soon.
Kyle Hendricks (5-4, 3.41 ERA) starts Saturday for the Cubs and Brett Anderson (2-3, 4.64) for the Brewers.