Cubs rally late with Russell's walk-off homer

Cubs rally late with Russell's walk-off homer

CHICAGO -- For the second straight game, the Cubs rallied for a win. Kris Bryant hit a game-tying RBI single in the ninth and one out later, Addison Russell smacked a walk-off, three-run homer Wednesday to lift the Cubs to a 7-4 victory over the Brewers and take the series.

"It's been an emotional week," manager Joe Maddon said of the Cubs' first homestand of the year in which they raised the championship banners and received their rings. "I like where we're at and what we're doing."

Russell's walk-off homer

Trailing 4-3 with one out in the ninth, Jon Jay drew a walk in Brewers closer Neftali Feliz's second inning of work, and reached third on pinch-hitter Miguel Montero's single. Bryant tied the game with an RBI single, and he and pinch-runner Carl Edwards Jr. both moved up on Anthony Rizzo's groundout. Russell then launched a 2-0 pitch into the left-field bleachers. Left fielder Hernan Perez glanced up, then headed to the dugout as the ball sailed into the seats.

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Bryant's game-tying single

It was Russell's second career walk-off hit; he also hit a game-winning RBI double on May 26, 2015. According to Statcast™, the homer had an exit velocity of 109 mph.

"Today I would say give the Cubs' hitters a lot of credit," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "We made enough pitches today. They just did a nice job of staying alive and staying in counts in certain at-bats."

Russell hit a bloop RBI single in the eighth as well and now leads the Cubs with 12 RBIs.

Russell's RBI bloop to right

"I was just trying to put the ball in play, something over the middle of the plate to start me out," Russell said of his at-bat in the ninth. "[Feliz] threw me two sliders away, and I was looking for something a little more in. He threw a fastball."

The Cubs have shown their resilience in back-to-back games. On Tuesday, the Cubs rallied from a 5-0 deficit for a 9-7 win to end a four-game losing streak. On Wednesday, they had to wait as the start of the game was delayed 55 minutes because of rain, then finished with their second walk-off win of the year. They opened this homestand on April 10 with the first, beating the Dodgers on Rizzo's RBI single.

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The rain delay on Wednesday must have given the Brewers more time to work on their hitting. Travis Shaw and Jett Bandy each smacked home runs to raise Milwaukee's Major League-leading total to 29.

Bandy's solo home run

"Look at the Brewers -- they've been puncturing hurricane-force stuff," Maddon said. "It's incredible what they've been doing. To beat them two out of three here when they're at the top of their offensive game is pretty good."

Brewers on record-setting homer pace

Milwaukee's Eric Thames, whose five-game homer streak ended on Tuesday, was held hitless for the first time in 13 starts. Chicago's Kyle Hendricks walked Thames with one out in the first to set up Shaw's homer, his second in as many days. Bandy led off the second with his third of the season to open a 3-0 lead.

The Major League leader in ERA in 2016, Hendricks gave up one homer over 23 innings in four starts in April last year. The Brewers must have figured something out, because they also hit two homers off the right-hander on April 8.

Hendricks searching for 'balance'

"It's tough. I mean, we had that lead late and that's a game we should have won," Shaw said at the finish of Milwaukee's 6-3 road trip. "But like I said last night, that's a good lineup, and overall on the road trip, I thought we played very well."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Center of attention: Albert Almora Jr. has earned a spot in the big leagues with his defensive play, but he's also been contributing at the plate. On Tuesday, he hit a key two-run single, and on Wednesday, Almora launched his first home run of the season with one out in the Cubs' second. The shot had an exit velocity of 107 mph and traveled 407 feet to right.

Almora Jr.'s towering solo shot

Eighth: The Cubs planted the seeds for their victory in the eighth, when they pulled within 4-3 on Russell's bloop RBI single. Almora had a chance to be the hero when he came up with two on and one out, and he battled Corey Knebel in an 11-pitch at-bat. Almora fouled off six straight pitches, then took two, and was frozen on a breaking ball and called out on strikes. With Knebel at 30 pitches, Counsell turned to Feliz, who got Javier Baez to strike out swinging to strand the tying and go-ahead runners in scoring position.

Feliz K's Baez to escape jam

"I thought that was my best at-bat of the day," Almora said of his battle with Knebel. "Give credit to him. It was a well fought battle. ... Tip your hat in that situation."

Knebel K's Almora Jr. looking

But that extra work impacted Feliz in the ninth, when he was at 30 pitches by the time Russell stepped to the plate for the game's final at-bat. The final fastball was supposed to be low and away, but found the inner half of home plate. Russell jumped on it.

"That's the risk of doing it," Counsell said of extending his closer. "But I'd do it again, because I think that at-bat in the eighth where he strikes out Baez is the game as well."

QUOTABLE
"It's something I've done in the past. I'm confident I can do it, and I'm glad [Counsell] was confident in me. If it happens again, I'll try to be ready for it again. -- Feliz, whose last multi-inning save was April 10, 2011 for the Rangers, a year and a half before he underwent Tommy John surgery.

"Teams are coming for us, we have targets on our backs. They're playing their best baseball. Our guys, to be able to grind it out and win a few ballgames, is good to see." -- Hendricks

NUMBERS GAME
Thames set a franchise record on Tuesday by hitting safely in his 12 starts to open the season but he went hitless on Wednesday. Hendricks walked Thames in the first and again in the third, then got him to ground out to end the fourth. In the sixth, the Brewers loaded the bases with two outs against Mike Montgomery, who fell behind Thames, 3-1. The Brewers' slugger then fouled off four straight pitches before grounding out to Baez. Thames walked in the ninth. He also ended another streak, having gone eight straight games with an extra-base hit.

Montgomery induces key groundout

WHAT'S NEXT
Brewers: Zach Davies will try to get on track when he starts opposite Carlos Martinez as the Cardinals come to Miller Park for a four-game series beginning Thursday at 7:10 p.m. CT. The Brewers hope this is the year they turn things around against the Cardinals; St. Louis has won 61 of 91 matchups between the teams over the past five seasons.

Cubs: After an off-day Thursday, the Cubs head to Cincinnati to open a three-game series against the Reds. Jon Lester will get the start on Friday on the one-year anniversary of Jake Arrieta's second career no-hitter. Arrieta, by the way, will start Saturday. First pitch is 6:10 p.m. CT.

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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.