Skip to content
Miller's 1st outing is 2nd-rate
The Cubs tried to make themselves at home at Miller Park over the weekend as scores of vocal Chicagoans made the short trek to support them.
But the Brewers spoiled the fun Sunday, avoiding a sweep by thumping Wade Miller en route to a 9-4 victory.
Partisan crowds made the weekend contests sound and feel like Cubs home games. Fans even referred to the Brewers' domed park as Wrigley Field North.
"We're not home, though," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "You're still in Milwaukee. You're still at the Pfister [Hotel], and you're eatin' bratwurst. So you're not home. You're close to home, but you're not home."
OK, maybe halfway home, as the Cubs will bring a 3-3 record into Monday's Wrigley Field opener against the Houston Astros.
"It was a good road trip for us," Piniella said. "A long trip from Arizona to Las Vegas to Cincinnati and from there to Milwaukee. I'm really pleased with a 3-3 start on the road."
Miller's first start of the season was shaky. He gave up back-to-back home runs in a four-run second inning, while Brewers starter Chris Capuano kept the Cubs on a short leash.
"[Miller] wasn't really sharp," Piniella said. "He was getting the ball up. He hasn't pitched in a while, so let's hope he gets better the next time out. We left him out there to get some work, and hopefully that helps him. The fifth starter, early in the season, gets moved around a little bit. The more work you can get him, the sharper he can be for his next start."
Miller entered Sunday's game with a 6-0 career record at Miller Park.
"That doesn't mean anything, really," Miller said. "You can beat any pitcher any day of the week. You just have to go out there with a good game plan and stick to it."
After Prince Fielder led off the second with a walk, Geoff Jenkins and Gabe Gross hit consecutive homers into the upper deck in right field. Damian Miller followed with a double to right-center. Capuano lofted a one-out RBI single to left. It was the first hit by a Brewers pitcher this season.
Capuano baffled Cubs hitters, who by and large took weak swings against the left-hander. Derrek Lee bounced a single through the left side in the fourth inning for the Cubs' first hit.
The Brewers made it 6-0 in the fifth, knocking out Miller, before the Cubs got on the board in the sixth. An error by Capuano let in the first run, and Lee followed with a two-run double. Michael Barrett's RBI single closed the gap to 6-4.
The Cubs squandered a scoring opportunity in the eighth inning after Lee was hit by a pitch and Aramis Ramirez singled to put runners on first and second with no outs. But Mark DeRosa struck out for the fourth time, Barrett lined out hard to left and pinch-hitter Daryle Ward fanned on a breaking pitch from reliever Derrick Turnbow.
"We came back and made a ballgame out of it," Piniella said. "I was happy to see that."
The Brewers broke the game open in the bottom of the eighth against reliever Scott Eyre. Piniella made a trip to the mound but decided to leave Eyre in to face Craig Counsell with the bases loaded. Counsell tripled down the right-field line, clearing the bases for a 9-4 lead.
"I was going to give the pitcher a little time in the bullpen, just in case they wanted to pinch-hit," Piniella said.
"We've used our bullpen a little. I'm trying to give them all an equal amount of work to get them as sharp as we can and at the same time not overuse them."