Brewers win Wrigley opener
CHICAGO (AP) – Marco Estrada walked out to warm up and saw the wind blowing straight out at Wrigley Field, a rare sight for an April date at the iconic neighborhood ballpark.
It was an unfortunate development for the right-hander, but he made it work in a big way for the Milwaukee Brewers.
Estrada pitched seven effective innings and doubled home a run Monday, helping the Brewers stop a five-game slide with a 7-4 victory over Chicago in the first game of the season at the Cubs’ longtime home.
“I just kept telling myself just leave the pitches down, especially the changeup,” he said. “As long as I don’t leave balls up, I should be OK. Especially because, you know, I’m a bit of a pop-fly pitcher and I knew in this park with that wind it could be trouble.”
Estrada allowed two runs and five hits while bouncing back from a lackluster season debut against Colorado. The right-hander also drove in Alex Gonzalez with a drive into the gap in right-center during Milwaukee’s two-run seventh.
Norichika Aoki collected three more hits and Ryan Braun had a successful return to the lineup as the Brewers won for the first time since opening day. Aoki had a career-high four hits in Milwaukee’s 8-7 loss to Arizona on Sunday and is batting .588 (10 for 17) in his last four games.
“It’s just nice to win,” Braun said. “We needed to win.”
Welington Castillo belted a two-run homer for Chicago, which has dropped four in a row and five of six. Edwin Jackson was hit hard in his first home game since he signed a $52 million, four-year contract over the winter, surrendering five runs and eight hits in six innings.
The Cubs rallied for two runs in the ninth and had the bases loaded when Dave Sappelt struck out. Starlin Castro then hit a fly ball deep to right, but the shifting wind held it up and Aoki brought it in on the warning track.
“Yeah, I had a bad feeling when we got things going there,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “We had nobody out and with those guys coming up, that wind shift was going to obviously have a factor in the game both ways, and it did.”
Jim Henderson picked up his first save of the season in his first opportunity since he replaced John Axford in the closer’s role.
Braun, who missed Milwaukee’s weekend sweep by Arizona due to spasms on the right side of his neck, went 3 for 4 with two doubles before he was replaced by Logan Schafer in the eighth inning. The 2011 NL MVP has at least one hit in each of his four games this season.
Braun was lustily booed by the crowd of 40,083 at Wrigley.