CHICAGO – After hitting his first career grand slam, Junior Lake came up next time with runners on first and second with nobody out.
But instead of swinging for the fences, the 23-year-old rookie dropped down a bunt for a base hit that eventually led to two runs.
That extra offense proved vital in the Cubs’ 8-5 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday.
“You’re either savvy or you’re not a very selfish player because it’s hard to go up there after hitting a grand slam and not think about having two homers and seven ribbies in your pocket,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said.
“But that led to bases loaded and nobody out and we ended up getting two out of it. It’s nice to see a guy thinking about other things other than his own stats.”
Lake, who went 2 for 4 and has hit five homers since being called up July 19, said that was what he was thinking.
“I’m just doing what’s best for the team,” he said through an interpreter. “I can get the bunt down and beat it out for a base hit to load the bases, or if I’m out, it’s like a sacrifice.
“I have confidence in my teammates.”
The Cubs jumped on Brewers starter Kyle Lohse (9-9) in the first inning. Nate Schierholtz singled with one out and runners on first and second to drive in the first run.
Two batters later, Lake homered on a 1-0 slider to complete the five-run inning.
“He missed location a lot. And when he missed location, they didn’t miss the pitch,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said of Lohse.
“He didn’t make too many quality pitches there the first inning.”
The Brewers scored in the second and third innings to make it 5-2.
Cubs starter Chris Rusin made it 7-2 with a two-run single in the bottom of the third after Lake had his bunt single.
Rusin had more success at the plate than on the mound.
After getting the first two outs in the fourth, he gave up consecutive hits to Norichika Aoki and Jean Segura, and was pulled from the game.
With right-handed power hitter Jonathan Lucroy due up, Sveum replaced the left-handed Rusin with right-hander Carlos Villanueva (5-8) and he got the final out in the inning and earned the victory.
“I was wild today, just a little wild and I had a tough time trying to find a rhythm,” Rusin said. “But the bullpen did a good job. They came in and closed the door.”
Said Sveum: “He got his pitch count up and I think he would tell you he didn’t have his best stuff or command today. But it was huge coming up with that hit, that’s for sure.”
Especially after Milwaukee’s Scooter Gennett hit a pinch-hit three-run homer off Pedro Strop to make it 7-5 in the eighth.
The Cubs added a run in the inning when Donnie Murphy led off with a single and scored on shortstop Segura’s throwing error.
Kevin Gregg got the final three outs for his 30th save in 35 chances.
“It’s kind of always one of those benchmarks for a closer,” Gregg said of 30 saves. “From the way my year started, it’s pretty exciting to get to.
“Being released out of spring training and not having a job for the first two weeks of the season, it was a pleasant surprise, I guess.”
NOTES: The Cubs activated recently acquired RHP Daniel Bard before the game, but whether he pitches in a game this season remains to be seen. Before he throws in a game, the Cubs at least want to see him throw on the side a couple of times. After battling an abdominal strain this season, Bard said he’s healthy and hopes to correct the problems with mechanics he believes robbed him of his high-90s fastball while with the Boston Red Sox. ... Khris Davis was in the Brewers’ lineup playing left field and batting sixth, but was scratched because of soreness in his left wrist. He is listed day to day. ... The Cubs announced that RHP Scott Baker will start the series finale Sunday. It will be his first start since undergoing Tommy John surgery last year. ... The Cubs’ Jake Arrieta (2-1) will face Johnny Hellweg (0-3) on Saturday.