Contreras late HR lifts Cubs to win at Milwaukee
Last week against the Brewers at Wrigley Field, Willson Contreras was hit by pitches in the front of the helmet and on the shoulder.
His second at-bat in Milwaukee on Tuesday, Contreras was struck on the hand. It was a dangerous situation, but Contreras stayed in the game, then got some revenge.
His 2-run homer in the eighth inning put the Cubs in the lead and they hung on for a 3-2 victory over the Brewers, ending a three-game losing streak.
"I think I let all my frustration come out," Contreras said. "Whenever you get hit a lot, you feel a battle with frustration."
"Tonight we sent a message. I think they picked the wrong guy to throw at. That was a message sent. There's another game coming up. Who knows what's going to happen."
Contreras left home plate slowly and gave the shush sign toward the fans as he rounded third base.
"That's a big home run," manager David Ross said. "That's got to feel so good for him. He almost ripped my hand off when he high-fived me in the dugout."
The night started off unexpectedly when scheduled starter Kyle Hendricks was scratched because he wasn't feeling well. Alec Mills stepped in as emergency starter and made his first trip to the mound in Milwaukee since tossing a no-hitter against the Brewers last Sept. 13. He went 4 innings and allowed just 2 hits, but one was a 2-run homer by Luis Urias in the second inning.
"I don't know how many times I've got to sing his praises just being so versatile," Ross said of Mills. "He really is so important to our team with how many roles he can fill and what he can do with the baseball.
"His personality is unflappable. He's just as even-keel as it goes. Late scratch and he goes four strong innings. I probably could have given him more if we needed it."
The Cubs got one run back in the fourth when Contreras was hit by a pitch, Anthony Rizzo followed with a single and Contreras scored on Kris Bryant's sacrifice fly.
Heading into the eighth inning, the Cubs had just 3 hits off Brewers starter Brandon Woodruff, who went 6 innings, and reliever Brad Boxberger.
So far this season, the Cubs hadn't been able to muster a hit off Milwaukee lefty Brent Suter in 4 innings. This time, Ian Happ greeted Suter with a one-out single, setting the stage for Contreras' heroics.
For the second time this season, Craig Kimbrel entered the game in the eighth inning, this time after Andrew Chafin walked two in a row with two out. It took just one pitch for Kimbrel to end the eighth inning with a grounder to third by Avisail Garcia.
Kimbrel gave up a two-out walk in the ninth -- the only baserunner he's allowed this season in 6 innings -- but ended the game with a fly out one batter later.
Kimbrel made his first appearance in five days. Pedro Strop made his return to the mound for the Cubs for the first time since Sept. 28, 2019, pitched a scoreless seventh inning and got the win.
Mills said he was told he might be needed to start about 90 minutes before game time and it was official about an hour before.
"It was late," Ross said. "We were trying to get him (Hendricks) tested. He was tested and it came back negative. Anybody with a little something right now, we're going to scratch and get them out of here. Just a little under the weather, a lot the same as the other guys. We're just taking extra caution."
Ross said Jake Arrieta will start as scheduled Wednesday, then they'll reassess the rotation heading into a home series against Atlanta on Friday.
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