Fri. Final: Brewers 4, Cubs 3
By Todd Welter
Next game: Saturday, Apr. 11th vs. Chicago
Opening Day has had many heroes but never a sleep deprived one--until now. Add Rickie Weeks to the list of Brewers Opening Day hereos as he hit a game-tying RBI double and then scored the go-ahead run in the Brewers' 4-3 victory over the Chicago Cubs at Miller Park.
The Brewers arrived in Milwaukee around 3:00 a.m. from their disappointing season opening series in San Francisco. So getting a good night's rest was out of the question but Weeks got his bearings about him at just the right time. The Brewers were down by a run in the final frame when pinch hitter Chris Duffy drew a walk. Weeks then blasted a double to left that drove in Duffy which tied the game at three.
Weeks then slid into third on a wild pitch by Cubs closer Kevin Gregg. The dramatics came when Ryan Braun hit a grounder to short. Weeks broke for home hoping shortstop Ryan Theriot would not go for the double play as Corey Hart was on first. Weeks' diversion worked as Theriot fired the ball towards home plate. Weeks beat out the throw as he slid under Koyie Hill's tag for the game winning run and it was party time at home plate.
Before that hero moment,
"You really can't worry about the past," Weeks said. "You got to worry about the future and the present time is right now."
Hill went from hero to goat on that play as he put the Cubs ahead 3-2 in the sixth with a two-run blast to right-center off Seth McClung. The Cubs' bullpen stopped a seventh and eighth inning rally attempt and it seemed all hope was lost before Weeks came to the plate in the ninth. When it comes to Opening Day at Miller Park, never count out the Brewers for coming up with some last minute dramatics.
"We get paid to entertain so we want to make it interesting," Braun joked. "We want the fans to have a good time. It was big for us to find a way to win today. Just with traveling, getting home late last night, not getting much sleep, dealing with everything we dealt with, it was really big for us to get the win."
Braden Looper was solid in his first start in a Brewers uniform. He pitched five strong innings, allowed five hits, one run, walked four and struck out four. Although Looper felt he did not give the home crowd a good first impression.
"I definitely wouldn't say that I pitched my best. I knew early on that I didn't have command the way I normally do. Its one of those days that I went into the season last year talking about this is the day I had to learn how to pitch when you don't feel like you are really good that you still try to give the team a chance to win. I felt like I did that today which was the biggest thing I did because I didn't have as good of stuff as I would have liked for sure," Looper explained.
His counterpart Rich Harden certainly had his best stuff as he struck out 10 through six innings, allowed two runs-one of them was unearned-gave up three hits, and walked two.
The Brewers got on the scoreboard first in the opening inning when Braun drove in Weeks with a single down the left-field line. The Crew added one more in the third on Hart's solo blast to right. The Cubs got that run back the next inning on Milton Bradley's solo shot to right-center.
Carlos Villanueva (1-0) picked up the win while Gregg (0-1) took the loss for blowing the save. Game two of this three-game set will have Dave Bush (0-1, 18.00) making his first start of the season for the Brewers (2-2). The Cubs (2-2) will go with Carlos Zambrano (1-0, 1.50)
The Brewers have won each of their last five Home Openers in the final at-bat...The Brewers stranded 10 base runners...The sellout crowd of 45,455 was the second largest crowd ever at Miller Park...Harden's 10-strikeout performance was his eighth career double-digit strikeout performance...The Cubs went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.