The Brewers came into Thursday looking to salvage a series split against the bottom dwelling Chicago Cubs after the Cubs took two-of-three to start the series.
In that effort they sent Fiers (1-1, 1.80 ERA), still filling in for the injured Matt Garza, to take on Edwin Jackson (6-12, 5.61 ERA) who is in the midst of is worst season since his first full season in 2007.
They didn’t need either of them the lineup today though as Mike Fiers had everything under control, becoming the first Brewers pitcher to strike out 14 hitters since Yovani Gallardo did it in 2012 as the Brewers cruised to a 5-2 win.
With two outs in the first Jonathan Lucroy walked to put a man on for Khris Davis. Davis worked a seven-pitch walk, moving Lucroy to second. Scooter Gennett knocked a two-out double off the wall to drive in both base runners and a 2-0 lead.
Both of the outs in the inning to this point were very long fly balls into the teeth of the wind at Wrigley, it was fortunate for Jackson and the Cubs that the wind was blowing in for the inning it the Brewers could have put up four runs before Mark Reynolds stuck out to end the inning.
After a Lyle Overbay strike out to open the second inning, Elian Herrera reached first on a perfect bunt for a hit. He moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Fiers. Gomez followed with another long fly out to center to end the inning.
Fiers struck out Luis Valbuena, Arismendy Alcantara and Justin Ruggiano in the bottom of the second inning. Ruggiano had a long foul fly ball that may have been a home run if not for the wind, with both pitchers benefiting from the Chicago gales.
After quick outs of Gerardo Parra and Lucroy, Davis belted a home run to left to give Milwaukee a 3-0 lead. Gennett flew out to end the inning.
Fiers whiffed Welington Castillo and Jackson to open the bottom of the third inning for the Cubs. Chris Coghlan grounded out to first to end the inning. Fiers struck out seven of the first nine batters he faced today.
Lyle Overbay singled with one-out in the top of the fourth, and came around to score on a triple by Herrera. Herrera’s grounder hit the bag at first and went into right field. Ruggiano bobbled it in right, which allowed Overbay to score, and Herrera to take third.
Fiers struck out for the second out of the inning, and Gomez lined a single to left to bring in Herrera and make it 5-0 Milwaukee. Gomez was picked off and caught stealing to end the inning.
Fiers struck out Javier Baez to open the bottom of the fourth, his 8th of the day, ahead of a Rizzo ground out. Castro singled up the middle for the Cubs second hit and first since the first inning. Valbuena flew out to left to end the inning.
Lucroy knocked a one-out single in the fifth to keep things rolling for Milwaukee. Two batters later Gennett drew a walk and the day was done for Jackson as they called for former Marlin Jacob Turner to pitch.
Turner got Reynolds to fly out to left to end the inning. Jackson pitched 4 2/3 innings and allowed five runs, all earned, on seven hits and three walks. He struck out four.
Fiers kept it rolling in the bottom half of the frame with strike outs to Alcantara and Ruggiano. Castillo worked a six pitch walk for Fiers first walk of the game, but Fiers came back to strike out Turner to end the inning with a career high 11 strike outs.
Turner came back out and put the Brewers down in order in the top of the sixth. Fiers came out gunning in the sixth and struck out Coghlan and Baez before a single by Rizzo. Fiers struck out Castro to end the inning with 14 strike outs.
Only four times in Brewers history has a pitcher struck out 14 batters. Ben Sheets struck out 18 Braves in a game in 2004, Gallardo whiffed 14 Pirates in a game in 2012 and Moose Haas set down 14 Yankees in a game in 1978.
That was it for Fiers with his pitch count at 106. He threw six innings didn’t allow a run on three hits and one walk.
Turner had another one-two-three inning in the top of the seventh for the Cubs, setting down Gomez, Parra and Lucroy.
Zach Duke came on to pitch the bottom of the seventh for Milwaukee. Duke got quick outs of Valbuena and Alcantara before a Ruggiano single up the middle.
Herrera threw the ball into the stands on a Castillo ground ball, putting Castillo at second and Ruggiano at third. Pinch hitter Chris Valaika singled to left to bring in both base runners and cut the lead to 5-2. Coghlan grounded out to short to end the inning.
Kyuji Fujikawa came on to pitch the eighth for the Cubs. He got Davis to pop out and struck out Scooter Gennett before giving up a long home run (21) to Reynolds to make it 6-2 Milwaukee.
Herrera singled to extend the inning, and Rickie Weeks came in to pinch-hit for Duke but ended up striking out looking to end the inning.
Will Smith came on to pitch the bottom half of the frame for the Brewers. He struck out Baez to open the inning, giving Baez the Golden Sombrero, with his fourth whiff of the game. Smith struck out Rizzo for the second out of the inning and Castro flew out to end the inning.
Former Brewer Carlos Villanueva came on to pitch the ninth for the Cubs and he set the Brewers down in order. The Cubs bullpen threw 4 1/3 innings and allowed just one run on two hits and a walk.
Jeremy Jeffress came on to pitch the ninth for Milwaukee. He worked through Valbuena, Alcantara and Ruggiano to end the game.
Fiers got the win for the Crew and Jackson took the loss for the Cubs. Milwaukee will head to Los Angeles for a three-game weekend set with the National League leading Dodgers.