Cubs' Steele just misses career-best performance

MILWAUKEE - Plenty of attention is focused on a starting pitcher going through an opposing lineup for the third time in a game.

Cubs pitcher Justin Steele was facing Milwaukee for the fourth time this season on Monday. That's a lot of looks from Brewers hitters, but he allowed just 1 hit over six innings before getting tagged for the tying run in the seventh.

"You definitely keep in the back of your mind how you've gotten this guy out over the course of the season," Steele said. "So if you get in the same situation later in the season, you're thinking he might be thinking the same thing, so you've got to make mental and physical adjustments."

Steele allowed just 2 hits and struck out nine, one short of his career-high. This would have easily been the best start of Steele's career, but he couldn't get the pitch he needed to finish off the seventh.

With two outs in the inning, Keston Hiura walked on a full count and stole second. Catcher Pedro Severino followed with a rocket line drive to left, which might have been catchable, but it sailed over Ian Happ's glove for a game-tying double.

In his last six starts, Steele has posted a 2.72 ERA. He also set a career-high with 108 pitches thrown on Monday, but said he hardly noticed.

"Back in high school I'd throw like 120 in a start and I just never really thought about it as I'm out there," he said. "I love getting deep into a ballgame, deep into my pitch count. That's obviously a good sign."

Velazquez collects a first:

There wasn't much offense early in Monday's game, except for the first major-league home run from Cubs outfielder Nelson Velazquez. He connected on a rocket line drive to left in the third inning.

Velazquez's home run was measured with an exit velocity of 108.3 miles per hour. That's the 15th hardest-hit home run by a Cubs players this season.

"That was sick," starting pitcher Justin Steele said. "I've been telling him a long time, 'I'm waiting to see your first home run.' Dude's a big boy. If he gets into it, I want to see it."

Cubs notes:

Manager David Ross began his postgame remarks with thoughts about the shooting in Highland Park on Monday morning. "Sending lots of love to the families who have lost some loved ones or been injured in that senseless act," he said. ...

Justin Steele is a native of Lucedale, Miss., and since the state of Mississippi produced the last two College World Series champions, it made sense to ask if he was happier when Ole Miss won last month or Mississippi State last year.

"I was happier when Mississippi State won because the catcher went to my high school, Logan Tanner," Steele said. "He's supposed to be drafted pretty high." ...

Outfielder Narciso Crook, optioned to make room to Seiya Suzuki, homered for the Iowa Cubs on Monday.

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