The loss ended the Cubs’ four-game win streak and evened the series at a game apiece.
Adbert Alzolay, who returned to the rotation from the alternate site in South Bend, Ind., threw 4 2/3 innings, allowing two hits while striking out seven and leaving with a 2-0 lead. But both of the runners Alzolay left on base came home thanks to Rex Brothers’ wild streak, and the game was decided by the bullpens.
Brewers starter Freddy Peralta, who struck out 18 and allowed only one run on three hits over 11 innings in two earlier starts against the Cubs, was nicked in the second by some well-placed hits from the bottom of the order. The Cubs had a man on with one out in the inning when No. 7 hitter Eric Sogard beat the shift with a single between short and second.
Nico Hoerner, who started at short in place of Javier Báez, followed with a double that hugged the left-field line, bringing home two runs.
Alzolay started out slow, giving up a double and a walk to the first two batters he faced and watching them advance on a fly to left. But Alzolay struck out Travis Shaw on a 96-mph fastball and induced Billy McKinney to hit a soft liner to Hoerner.
Alzolay retired 12 straight after the first-inning walk before Keston Hiura doubled leading off the fifth. After a two-out walk to Corey Ray, the Chicago Simeon Career Academy product making his major league debut, Alzolay was yanked for Brothers, who walked two to force in a run then plunked Tyrone Taylor in the foot to bring in the tying run.
Piña’s two-run shot off an Andrew Chafin slider in the seventh gave the Brewers the lead for good. Jason Heyward hit a solo home run in the eighth to cut the deficit to 4-3.
After Hoerner drew a walk against closer Josh Hader to start the ninth, Jake Marisnick took a called strike on the first pitch that was well out of the zone. Manager David Ross argued and was ejected by umpire Cory Blaser.
Marisnick and Baéz struck out and Willson Contreras flied to right to end it. Three of the Cubs’ eight hits were from Sogard, who beat the shift twice by going the opposite way.
Jake Arrieta faces the Brewers’ Brandon Woodruff in the series finale Sunday.