MILWAUKEE -- In a battle of pitchers facing their former teams, score this one a TKO for Matt Garza over Carlos Villanueva.
Garza broke about a half-dozen bats Friday night and dominated the Cubs as the Milwaukee Brewers scored a 5-2 victory at Miller Park.
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Although the final score was somewhat close, this one felt like a rout most of the night. Part of it was Garza's dominance. He allowed 4 hits and 2 runs in 7 innings while walking one and striking our seven.
Part of it was Villanueva's continued struggles and some inattentive play by the Cubs, who fell to 7-15.
Villanueva has been the Cubs' fifth starter because of Jake Arrieta's season-opening stint on the disabled list. But it looks like Villanueva's days in the rotation are numbered because Arrieta will tune up Saturday in one final rehab start at Class AA Tennessee.
Garza (1-2), who pitched for the Cubs from 2011 until being traded to Texas last July, said there was no special significance in beating his former club.
"I've been on five different teams, man," he said. "If I had to get up for everybody, I'd be tired by midseason."
While the Cubs are floundering again, the Brewers are thriving at 17-6.
"It's a lot fun to win," Garza said. "You go through three years of constantly hoping, you kind of run out of hope. You come to a team like this where every day, we're going out to win. We're not going out to hope to win."
As for Villanueva (1-5), he gave up 11 hits and 5 runs in 5 innings. For the season, he has allowed 40 hits in 19 innings and has an ERA of 10.42. Villanueva is a former Brewer who last pitched for Milwaukee in 2010.
As for Garza, a good number of Cubs hitters know all about him, but he clearly had the advantage in this game. "A lot of these guys played alongside of him and know him, and I'm sure they're preparing to face him and do what they can, just like we do against any other pitcher," said Cubs manager Rick Renteria. "You'd be surprised. Sometimes when you have a guy on the same team, you think you know exactly what they're about until you start to face him and then you realize you really didn't have as good an idea as you might have thought."
Villanueva wasn't the only Cub to suffer through a rough night. Left fielder Junior Lake was another. In the bottom of the first inning, Carlos Gomez led off with a single and stole second base. The next batter, Scooter Gennett, lined the ball to left toward Lake.
It looked like Lake may have had trouble with the sun coming through the stadium panels. In any case, he missed the ball, and the call was an RBI double.
Ryan Braun then singled to left, and Lake airmailed the cutoff man on his unsuccessful throw home. At the plate, Lake struck out twice. In the fifth inning, he snapped his bat in half over his leg after going down swinging.