Villar homers twice to lead Brewers past Cubs

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[September 08, 2016]  MILWAUKEE -- Craig Counsell will be watching the 2016 MLB Playoffs from the comfort of his couch this season, but for three hours Wednesday night, his Milwaukee Brewers played some postseason-caliber baseball.

Matt Garza pitched six strong innings and Jonathan Villar hit two home runs, including a first-pitch blast in the eighth that broke a 1-1 tie, to lead the Brewers to a 2-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday night at Miller Park.

"That was a good one," Counsell said. "That felt like a real baseball game, like, one you're on the edge of your seat the whole game. One pitch makes a difference in that whole game. It was a game you're hanging on every pitch, for the whole game, really."

Villar went hitless in the first game of the three-game series, but went 5-for-9 from the plate in the last two contests with three home runs.

After putting Milwaukee on the board with a solo shot to leadoff the fourth inning, he smacked Joe Smith's first offering of the eighth off the wall in center for his first career multi-homer game, putting the Brewers ahead.

"I don't feel happy for me, I feel happy for the team because we (won)," Villar said. "That's not my game. That's (Keon) Broxton's game. If he didn't take the ball away it's a tie game."

Broxton robbed Anthony Rizzo of a second-home run in the contest, reaching over the wall in center with two outs in the ninth to preserve the one-run lead.

"I didn't think it was going to go that far, so I kind of had time to coast and get under it and have a good read," Broxton said. "I got to a good point of the wall where I could jump without hitting it and I just jumped and made a catch."

Thornburg followed that by getting Ben Zobrist to fly out, clinching his ninth save of the season.

"Rizzo is incredibly locked in right now," Counsell said. "He's a tough customer right now, but Tyler battled. He made good pitches to (Kris) Bryant. He probably got a little more of the plate than he wanted to with the pitch to Rizzo, but Keon saved him."

Mike Montgomery went five innings for Chicago, allowing two hits and a pair of walks while striking out six.

His only blemish came in the fourth, when Villar sat back on a 2-2 changeup to give Milwaukee a 1-0 lead.

"I had him where I wanted him in the count but I made a mistake pitch and left a changeup up in the zone," Montgomery said. "He's seeing the ball good right now. It happens. Just one of those things. Sometimes you make a mistake and guys take advantage of it."

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Brewers third baseman Jonathan Villar (5) hits a solo home run in the eighth inning during the game against the Chicago Cubs at Miller Park. The Brewers won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Rizzo's home run was the only run allowed by Brewers starter Matt Garza, who needed only 80 pitches to get through six innings and scattered three hits and a pair of walks while striking out five.

He was challenged just one; loading the bases with one out in the first inning but worked out of the jam and faced the minimum over the next four innings.

"That was big," Maddon said of the early missed opportunity. "If we get a couple there and get it rolling, it could have been different, for sure. But we didn't."

Even with the loss, the Cubs' magic number to clinch the NL Central crown dropped to nine thanks to the Pirates' 4-3 victory over second-place St. Louis.

NOTES: Chicago manager Joe Maddon hasn't decided upon a designated hitter for the Cubs' upcoming series at Houston. ... Maddon left 1B Anthony Rizzo in the starting lineup Wednesday after he hit a pair of home runs a night earlier in Chicago's 12-5 loss. Maddon had planned to rest Rizzo Tuesday or Wednesday but opted to keep him on the field and use a scheduled off-day Thursday for rest. ... Brewers manager Craig Counsell said he plans to add several coaches from the minor league system to his staff over the next few weeks, allowing them a chance to spend more time with players they'll see in fall instructional leagues and spring training next season. ... Despite the addition of C Andrew Susac to the roster Tuesday, Counsell gave Manny Pina the start against Chicago in place of Martin Maldonado. Counsell said he hadn't figured out when Susac would get his first start with the Brewers.

[ 2016 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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