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Cubs 8, Brewers 7: A Morel victory

Christopher Morel’s sixth-inning homer, plus some excellent relief work, gave the Cubs a win over Milwaukee.

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Now that was a fun baseball game!

That could have been said even if the Cubs had lost it, but it was entertaining regardless. There were five lead changes and five home runs hit on a windy day at Wrigley, and in the end Christopher Morel’s two-run homer in the sixth inning provided the margin of victory in an 8-7 Cubs win over the Brewers, their fourth win in a row — and third straight by one run, improving the team’s record in one-run games to 17-22.

Beyond Morel’s homer and other solid offensive performances, the Cubs bullpen came up big time, with Steven Brault, Michael Rucker, Mark Leiter Jr. and Brandon Hughes combining for 3⅔ shutout innings with two hits and no runs allowed, with three strikeouts.

Those are not names you would have expected to hear earlier this year helping the Cubs to victory, but here we are, and kudos to all of them.

Let’s rewind to the beginning of this satisfying win.

Keegan Thompson struggled in the first inning, eventually serving up a two-run homer to Andrew McCutchen. The Cubs got those back and more in the bottom of the inning. Nick Madrigal led off with a single and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Two outs later, he scored on this double by Seiya Suzuki [VIDEO].

As you can see, Suzuki didn’t miss a home run by much, but he wound up scoring on a triple — yes, another triple! — by Franmil Reyes [VIDEO].

Again, that didn’t miss leaving the yard by much, and when it bounced away from Brewers outfielders, Reyes wound up on third.

Before this week, Reyes had two career triples in 1,837 plate appearances. Now, he has two more over his last 21. Also, this:

The Cubs weren’t done in the first inning, either. Ian Happ beat out this little dribbler down the third-base line, driving in Reyes [VIDEO].

Thompson had an easy 1-2-3 second and the Cubs increased their lead in the bottom of the inning. Christopher Morel singled and advanced to second on a single by Madrigal. Both runners moved up on a wild pitch, which turned out to be important when Willson Contreras hit this fly ball [VIDEO].

Morel, who took third on the wild pitch, scored to put the Cubs ahead 4-2.

Unfortunately, Thompson again got in trouble in the third, serving up a home run ball to Rowdy Tellez and then after a walk, Hunter Renfroe also homered to make it 5-4 Brewers.

It was my impression that both starting pitchers seemed a bit rattled by the planes flying over the ballpark for the Chicago Air and Water Show practice day. They each stepped off the mound multiple times to compose themselves.

Thompson retired the first two hitters in the fourth, but when he issued a two-out walk David Ross replaced him with Kervin Castro, who got out of the inning and then threw a 1-2-3 fifth.

The Cubs took the lead back in the bottom of the fifth. Madrigal led off with a single, his third hit of the afternoon. He advanced to second on a ground out, and then Patrick Wisdom brought him home [VIDEO].

That was lead change number three, now 6-5 Cubs.

But Castro couldn’t hold on to things in the sixth. He issued a walk and one out later, a double by Tyrone Taylor putting runners on second and third. Steven Brault entered and recorded the second out, which scored a run to tie the game and advanced Taylor to third, but then Morel couldn’t handle a ball at short and an infield hit plated Taylor with the second Milwaukee run of the inning to give them the lead back at 7-6, lead change number four.

The Cubs provided lead change number five in the bottom of the sixth. Happ led off with a single, but the next two Cubs were called out on strikes.

Morel then hit a baseball about four rows below me in the left field corner [VIDEO].

That was Morel’s 12th of the year, and this is impressive:

That’s when Cubs relievers locked down the rest of the afternoon. Rucker threw an easy, 13-pitch 1-2-3 seventh, with some defensive help by P.J. Higgins [VIDEO].

Leiter struck out all three batters he faced in the eighth, the last two on nasty changeups. Then Brandon Hughes was summoned to pitch the ninth, likely because two of the first three hitters were lefthanded.

Christian Yelich led off the inning with a single, but Hughes then got Willy Adames to fly to center. Rowan Wick was warming up and likely would have entered the game to pitch to McCutchen, but Hughes got Tellez to hit into a game-ending double play [VIDEO].

So two days in a row, the Cubs end a one-run victory with a double play. This game was well-pitched by the Cubs late-inning relievers and they got just enough timely hitting to win their fourth straight and 10th in their last 14 tries. The complaint department is thus declared closed!

Let me preface this next statement by noting that no, it doesn’t really matter what uniform the Cubs wear, but they are now 4-1 wearing the City Connect Wrigleyville outfits. Maybe they should do that more often.

Weather permitting, these teams will meet again Saturday afternoon at Wrigley Field. Marcus Stroman will start for the Cubs and Freddy Peralta will go for Milwaukee. Game time is again 1:20 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.