MILWAUKEE (AP) — The Chicago Cubs have never seen this side of Jason Heyward.
The way this season has been going, they were due for a pleasant surprise.
Heyward hit two home runs for his first multihomer game in a Cubs uniform, and Victor Caratini and Javier Baez also went deep as Chicago snapped a six-game skid with a 14-8 victory over the Brewers on Saturday night.
Heyward’s last multihomer game was on Aug. 16, 2015 for St. Louis against Miami, a season before he signed a $184 million, eight-year contract with Chicago.
“It was a great day,” Heyward said. “It’s good to be a part of the offense. A lot of guys out there fighting their tails off and looking for a result to help the team win. It was good to contribute to that.”
The Cubs struggles have been more about pitching, of course, and starter Cole Hamels provided the kind of stability Chicago had in mind when it picked up the veteran left-hander’s $20 million option this offseason.
Hamels gave the Cubs six innings, holding Milwaukee’s offense to two runs and six hits while striking out five.
“Cole was outstanding,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.
Hamels (1-0) labored early, throwing 51 pitches over the first two innings, but he mostly cruised through the next four innings, retiring 12 of his final 14 batters. He limited the damage, stranding two by striking out Christian Yelich to end the second. He also got Lorenzo Cain to chase a changeup that would have been ball four with two on and two out in the fourth.
“I was able to go a little bit deeper in the pitch count for early in the season,” Hamels said. “I know they’ll be some times when I’ll get a breather when we are rolling.”
Chicago improved to 2-6 with its first win since opening day. The front office revamped a struggling bullpen earlier Saturday, demoting right-hander Carl Edwards Jr. to Triple-A and putting lefty Mike Montgomery on the 10-day injured list. Kyle Ryan and Allen Webster were called up to replace them but didn’t fare well. Ryan allowed two baserunners while getting two outs to start the seventh, and Webster followed and allowed a three-run homer to Ryan Braun.
Brewers starter Corbin Burnes (0-1) struck out six but gave up six hits and three walks.
Braun had three RBIs for Milwaukee. Cain and Eric Thames also went deep.
ROCKY START FOR BURNES
Burnes allowed just four home runs in 38 innings as a rookie last season but has given up three in each of this first two starts in 2019. He’s the first Brewers pitcher to allow at least three home runs in consecutive starts since Jason Bere in 2000.
“He has not been a homer-prone pitcher in the minor leagues and wasn’t in the big leagues last year,” Counsell said. “We’re going to have to work on that. It’s a little puzzling.”
Edwards was rocked in his first four outings, allowing six earned runs over 1 2/3 innings of work. Eight of the 13 batters he’s faced have reached safely.
“He’s done such great work for us,” Maddon said. “We’ve got to get him back right.”
NO WORRIES FOR MADDON
With a 1-6 record coming into the game and no contract beyond this season, Maddon said he wasn’t worried about his job status.
“The last four years have been pretty good,” he said. “If I have to rely on a week’s worth of baseball games, that’s a bad process. I’m willing to shoulder the blame, but I really have zero concern.”
Chicago is 389-267 under Maddon, who has led the Cubs to the postseason in each of his first four seasons. HIs .592 winning percentage is the third-highest in franchise history, behind Frank Chance (1905-1912) and Al Spaulding, who led the Cubs in 1876-77.
Cubs: Montgomery has a strained left lat muscle. After missing most of spring training with shoulder soreness, Montgomery made four appearances this season, posting a 16.88 ERA in 2 2/3 innings of work.
Brewers: RHP Jeremy Jeffress could be back with the Brewers sometime during their next homestand. Jeffress has been sidelined with shoulder soreness since his first and only spring training outing but felt good after allowing two runs over 1 1/3 innings for Triple-A San Antonio on Friday night.
After holding the Reds to two runs over five innings in his 2019 debut, RHP Zach Davies (0-0, 3.60) gets the series finale against Chicago. He’ll go up against Cubs RHP Kyle Hendricks (0-1, 4.15 ERA).