CHICAGO – Scott Baker pitched well in his first game in nearly two years.
The 31-year-old right-hander pitched five shutout innings, and the Cubs fell to the Milwaukee Brewers 3-1 Sunday.
"It felt very good," said Baker, who underwent Tommy John surgery last year. "There were some emotions there. It's been a long road, and I was happy my family was here to share this moment because they're just as much a part of this as I am."
Baker allowed two hits, struck out one and walked one in his first outing since Sept. 24, 2011, when he pitched for the Minnesota Twins. He threw 55 pitches and exited the game before the pitcher had to bat in the bottom of the fifth inning. Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Baker would not have thrown more than 75 pitches.
"He did his job first time out, did a great job and leave it at that," Sveum said. "We'll evaluate going forward."
Sveum declined to say whether Baker will start again this season. Baker hopes he gets another chance.
"I feel like that's the only way it's going to get better," Baker said. "I understand there are guys here fighting for jobs next year, and as much as they want to pitch, I'm sure the staff and front office want to get looks at everybody."
Yovani Gallardo tossed seven strong innings and Jeff Bianchi delivered a key pinch-hit single for the Brewers. Gallardo (11-9) allowed one run and three hits. He is 3-0 with a 1.35 ERA in five starts since coming back from a hamstring injury that put him on the disabled list.
"Coming back from the DL, it may have refreshed his arm a little bit," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said.
Bianchi keyed a three-run seventh with a two-run single. Gallardo also contributed an RBI single.
Jim Henderson worked a perfect ninth for his 24th save in 28 chances.
Junior Lake homered for the Cubs, who dropped to 29-46 at Wrigley Field.
The game was scoreless until the fifth when Lake homered into the left-field bleachers. It was his sixth homer since being called up from the minors in July. Lake's 58 hits since the All-Star break lead all major league rookies.
Logan Watkins then pinch-hit for Baker, who said he understood the circumstances in a National League game.
"I would have been happy to go back out there," Baker said. "Physically, I felt fine. It doesn't do you a lot of good to put up
too much fuss."
Former Cubs star Aramis Ramirez started the Brewers' rally with a one-out double in the seventh off reliever Justin Grimm (0-1). Carlos Gomez followed with a single. Ramirez was held at third base, but the throw from right fielder Nate Schierholtz missed the cut-off man, allowing Gomez to take second.
"You don't want to throw balls like that like we did when certain people are on base," Sveum said. "We didn't need to do that."
Bianchi's single up the middle against James Russell gave Milwaukee a 2-1 lead. Gallardo singled with two outs to score Bianchi.
NOTES: To make room for Baker on the 40-man roster, the Cubs designated INF Cody Ransom for assignment. "Unfortunately, Ransom's been here all year and it's kind of a weird time to designate someone on Sept. 8," Sveum said. "It's an unfortunate thing, but it's part of the business." Ransom, 37, made 38 starts at 3B. He hit .189 with nine home runs and 20 RBIs. ... The Cubs are at Cincinnati on Monday with Travis Wood (8-11) facing Bronson Arroyo (13-10). ... The Brewers are off until Tuesday when they begin a series in St. Louis with Wily Peralta (9-14) going against Shelby Miller (12-9).