MLB: Aiming to add to division lead, Brewers take on Cubs again

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With the hoopla surrounding Cubs manager Craig Counsell’s return to Milwaukee dying down, the Milwaukee Brewers will refocus behind right-hander Freddy Peralta when they host Chicago on Tuesday in what is shaping up as a key National League Central series.

Peralta (3-3, 3.81 ERA) will be opposed by rookie right-hander Ben Brown (1-1, 3.20 ERA).

The Brewers took the opener of the four-game series, erupting for five runs in the eighth against the Chicago bullpen for a 5-1 win on Monday in Counsell’s first game back in Milwaukee as manager of the Cubs.

Willy Adames keyed the decisive eighth inning with a three-run homer off Hayden Wesneski. Brewers rookie left-hander Robert Gasser tossed six-plus scoreless innings in his fourth major league start, allowing three hits with seven strikeouts and no walks.

Cubs starter Justin Steele limited the Brewers to three hits over seven scoreless innings. Including a three-game series at Chicago earlier this month, the Brewers have not scored in 25 1/3 innings against Cubs starters.

The Brewers, 8-2 in their past 10 games at home, moved 4 1/2 games ahead of the second-place Cubs, who have lost a season-high five straight games and eight of their past 10.

“It’s a third of the season. We have a long way to go. This is a nice win,” Brewers manager Pat Murphy said. “We’ve got a long way to go, and I say it over and over … you can’t coast uphill, and we’ve got an uphill battle. You know what we’re facing: injuries, inexperience, all that stuff. Just keep going, don’t think about it, and worry about tomorrow.”

Counsell, who surprisingly joined the Cubs during the offseason after nine seasons as the Brewers manager, was roundly booed in the pregame introductions on Monday, and each subsequent appearance on the field.

“It’s like I said before the game, the fans are here to enjoy the day, enjoy the baseball game,” Counsell said. “They get to do what they want, and hopefully they had a good time.”

Peralta, who won his first three decisions, has not won since the last of those, which came on April 30. He is 0-3 with a 4.70 ERA in four starts in May.

Peralta allowed just one run — a leadoff homer in the first — on four hits over seven innings in his last start, but was saddled with the defeat in a 1-0 loss on the road against the Miami Marlins.

Peralta is 5-2 with a 3.50 ERA in 16 career games, including 11 starts, against the Cubs. He has faced Chicago once this season, allowing three runs in five innings to take the loss in a 5-0 defeat at Wrigley Field.

Brown has split time between the bullpen and the rotation, with five starts in 12 appearances. In five outings in May, including two starts, he is 1-0 — the win came in relief — and a 1.65 ERA.

He started his last time out, allowing just one hit over four scoreless innings of a 3-0 loss to the visiting Atlanta Braves.

Brown, who made his major league debut March 30 in Texas, has not faced the Brewers.

–Field Level Media

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