Cubs look to cap season with series win over Brewers

Field Level Media

October 01, 2023 at 1:25 pm.

While the Milwaukee Brewers will get one more tune-up for the playoffs, the Chicago Cubs will look for a positive ending to their rough season finish.

With little on the line, the host Brewers and Cubs will end the regular season with a rubber match of their series on Sunday.

Winners of the National League Central, Milwaukee (91-70) has no incentive to field its regulars in Sunday’s lineup after Chicago (83-78) was eliminated from postseason contention following Miami’s 7-3 victory at Pittsburgh on Saturday. The Cubs, also likely to sit some of their regulars, did snap a nine-game road losing streak with Saturday’s 10-6 win at Milwaukee.

Yan Gomes hit a grand slam and had five RBIs for Chicago, which overcame blowing a 6-0 first-inning lead to win for just the seventh time in the last 21 games. The Cubs were 1 1/2 games behind the first-place Brewers on Sept. 6 before the bottom dropped out.

“It stinks,” Gomes told Marquee Sports Network. “It wasn’t from a lack of effort.

“We didn’t play our best ball towards the end.”

The Cubs are scheduled to start ace Justin Steele (16-5, 3.05 ERA) on Sunday to close his breakout season. He earned his first All-Star nod in 2023 and put himself in the conversation for the NL Cy Young Award. However, the third-year left-hander might be showing the effects of making a career-high 30 starts and pitching 173 1/3 innings by going 0-2 with a 9.42 ERA in his last three starts.

After giving up six earned runs in back-to-back outings, Steele allowed three runs over 5 1/3 innings on Tuesday. The Cubs, however, squandered a 6-0 lead in their 7-6 loss at Atlanta.

Steele, though, yielded just three runs and struck out 21 through 18 innings in going 1-0 over three starts vs. Milwaukee this season.

Headed to the postseason for the fifth time in six years, the Brewers will look to close with a fourth win in five games.

“We’ve obviously got big goals here,” Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said.

William Contreras has been a consistent key to the Brewers’ success. He is batting .354 during a 17-game hitting streak.

Right-hander Adrian Houser (7-5, 4.32) is slated to take the mound for the Brewers on Sunday. He is 2-1 with a 2.81 ERA since missing three weeks with an elbow issue. On Tuesday, Houser allowed four runs (two earned) with three hits in five innings of a 4-1 home loss to St. Louis.

Houser overcame six hits, three walks and a hit batter to yield just one run over five innings of a 4-3 loss to the Cubs on July 5.

Chicago’s Cody Bellinger is 3-for-4 against Houser, but it’s uncertain if he’ll play in the finale of a resurgent season for the former MVP. With an RBI double Saturday, Bellinger is batting .307 with 26 homers and 97 RBIs.

Meanwhile, Cubs rookie Alexander Canario is likely to be in the lineup following a three-hit game Saturday.

Milwaukee rookie Blake Perkins also could start for a second straight game after he homered in Saturday’s loss.

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