Neither Jesus Aguilar nor Bud Norris wanted to let their team down.
Aguilar succeeded twice.
Aguilar homered to break up rookie Jack Flaherty’s no-hit bid in the seventh inning, then homered again in the ninth to lift the Milwaukee Brewers over the St. Louis Cardinals 2-1 on Friday night.
Both teams got just three hits. The benches and bullpens briefly cleared in the eighth after Eric Sogard slid into St. Louis shortstop Yairo Munoz, who caught a wide throw on a bunt play in the eighth.
Norris (3-2) started the ninth for the Cardinals by striking out Travis Shaw. But, Aguilar followed with an opposite-field drive to right for his 16th home run.
He was dominating the strike zone tonight, and I think we got lucky, he said. We tied the game in the moment. It’s a new game, and we’re moving forward, thinking we’re going to win this game.
Flaherty matched a career high by striking out 13 in seven innings, allowing just one hit. The Cardinals played stellar defense behind him after giving up six unearned runs with a season-high four errors in Thursday’s 11-3 loss to Milwaukee. Munoz robbed Jonathan Villar of a base hit in the fifth with a nice running backhand stab of a liner tailing away from him.
That was unbelievable, Molina said of Flaherty’s performance. Good pitching, good effort. Everything was working for him. We didn’t hit enough to get him the win tonight.
The issue isn’t with Rosario, it’s simply the situation the Cubs find themselves in: Closer Brandon Morrow is on the disabled list with back tightness after injuring himself getting undressed, and lights-out setup man Carl Edwards Jr. also is down, a shoulder ailment keeping him from pitching. Veteran lefty Brian Duensing — who would have been an option to face Winker on Thursday — is on the bereavement list.
When you have less than everybody, it just has to be all hands on deck, manager Joe Maddon said before the game.
Without the aforementioned veterans, others have had to pick up the slack. Steve Cishek and Pedro Strop are the Cubs’ two most reliable relievers right now, but they can’t pitch every night. It means the shuttle between Triple-A and the big leagues will continue as the team tries to mix and match with fresh arms.
It’s a work in progress that has mostly worked for them this season — at least until Thursday. Cubs relievers have lost the fewest games of any bullpen in the major leagues. The likes of Justin Hancock, Anthony Bass, Rob Zastryzny, Cory Mazzoni — and Rosario — have done a good job, along with the Cubs’ A hurlers. But they’re all in survival mode now. Playing without Morrow has really thrown back-end roles for a loop. In fact, it’s why Rosario has been able to ascend: He’s been forced into high-leverage situations and mostly succeeded.