video thumbnail

ARI@MIL: Lohse strikes out five in Brewers debut

First, Kyle Lohse endured a painfully long offseason, waiting until the final week of Spring Training to sign as a free agent with the Brewers. Next came an abbreviated Cactus League stint, which consisted of one start. The whirlwind ended Friday, when Lohse debuted for his new team with six solid innings against the D-backs.

Now comes a return to normalcy, the grind of a long season.

Lohse will make his second start Wednesday night, when the Brewers play the last of a three-game series against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Scott Feldman will go for Chicago, which stopped a four-game losing streak with Tuesday's 6-3 win.

Although Lohse barely got a taste of a normal Spring Training, he was the lone Brewers pitcher to deliver a quality start during the team's first turn through its starting rotation. The 34-year-old right-hander held Arizona to one run on five hits, walking none and striking out five while throwing 61 of his 87 pitches for strikes.

"Hopefully, what we saw the other day, hopefully that continues," manager Ron Roenicke said. "We're going to want him there every fifth day."

If Lohse's unusual offseason is going to have any effect, it has not shown up so far.

"He came out of it real well," Roenicke said.

Feldman will make his Wrigley Field debut after signing a one-year deal with the Cubs this offseason. On Friday, the right-hander needed 102 pitches to get through 4 2/3 innings at Atlanta, giving up four runs on five hits and four walks.

The game figures to serve as an appropriate introduction to Wrigley's frequently adverse conditions. The starting temperature for Tuesday night's game was 39 degrees, with winds at 23 miles per hour, and the weather is not expected to improve much for the rest of the series.

"Stick a finger up and find out where it's blowing every inning," said Cubs infielder Brent Lillibridge, who has also played for the White Sox. "It's just part of the game. All you can do is square the ball up and hope for the best. But it's part of that windy April for both sides. It's tough."

Brewers: Ailing Roenicke soldiers on
• Despite Wrigley Field's unpleasant conditions, Roenicke fought past severe back spasms to manage Tuesday's game. Roenicke began experiencing problems overnight and went to a Chicago emergency room early in the morning before receiving treatment and returning to the team hotel.

"It's been bothering me for a few days, but not enough to -- I could still throw, hit fungoes," Roenicke said. "It was just a bad position in bed, watching a movie, and I couldn't move."

• It didn't take long for the Brewers to make a change at closer, with John Axford being removed from the role for a second straight season following three rough appearances. Jim Henderson will take over temporarily in save situations.

Axford's struggles continued in middle relief Tuesday when he surrendered three runs in two-thirds of an inning to take his second loss.

Cubs: Staying the course through struggles
The Cubs entered Tuesday's game ranked 29th in the Majors with a .186 batting average and 28th with a .136 average with runners in scoring position.

"You have to go up there thinking you're trying to square a ball up up the middle, and it shouldn't change just because there's a guy on third base. It shouldn't change because it's the bottom of the ninth," Lillibridge said. "That's what separates great baseball players from the guys that hit .250, versus the guys that hit .400. They just take advantage of it. It's a mindset, that's all it is. It doesn't change anything. If anything, you should be more relaxed and say, 'Hey, the pitcher's the one who's in a jam.'"

The bats came alive a bit Tuesday as the Cubs scored five runs in their final two innings at the plate to secure a comeback win. They finished with nine hits and went 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position.

Worth noting
• Despite his time with the Cardinals, Lohse has pitched only one game at Wrigley Field since 2009, giving up three runs in six innings last season.

• David DeJesus is 12-for-26 (.462) against Lohse with a home run, while Alfonso Soriano is 20-for-56 (.357) with four homers and 12 RBIs. Comments