CHICAGO (AP) — Justin Steele said it felt like he got kneed in his left leg. Once he got some blood flowing into the area, he knew he was fine.
Once Steele got back on the mound, that’s when the Chicago Cubs knew they were fine, too.
Steele struck out eight in six effective innings, shaking off a comebacker that hit him, and the Cubs stopped Milwaukee’s nine-game winning streak with a 1-0 victory over Corbin Burnes and the Brewers on Tuesday night.
“That was a really fun environment to pitch in,” Steele said.
Steele (15-3) allowed six hits and walked one, throwing 80 of his career-high 111 pitches for strikes. The All-Star left-hander improved to 6-0 with a 3.09 ERA in his last eight starts.
Bouncing back from a 6-2 loss in the series opener, Chicago (70-62) pulled within four games of NL Central-leading Milwaukee (74-58). The Cubs also are in the mix for an NL wild card.
“To come out ahead of that game, that’s a growth moment,” manager David Ross said, “and just proves, hey, we can play with some of the best teams in the league.”
Steele was struck just above his left knee by Victor Caratini’s one-out liner in the second. After a visit from Ross and a trainer, along with a few warmup throws, he stayed in — drawing a big cheer from the Wrigley Field crowd of 33,294.
Burnes (9-7) also was terrific, striking out seven in seven innings in windy conditions. But the three-time All-Star remains winless in seven starts since he pitched eight sparkling innings in a 4-0 victory at Philadelphia on July 20.
“When we needed to, we made pitches and got out of big innings,” Burnes said. “A couple times had some big momentum shifts to give us a chance and we just couldn’t come up with the big hit.”
The Brewers had seven hits and went 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position in their first loss since Aug. 17. It was the team’s longest winning streak since an 11-game run in 2021.
“We took some really good swings that weren’t rewarded, and that’s just this park on a windy day,” manager Craig Counsell said.
After Steele departed, Mark Leiter Jr. and Julian Merryweather each got three outs before Adbert Alzolay worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his 22nd save in 23 opportunities.
Merryweather got some help when Yan Gomes threw out Christian Yelich when he attempted to steal second in the eighth. Ian Happ also made a solid catch against the ivy-covered wall in left on Tyrone Taylor’s drive in the fifth.
“I was just hoping it was staying in, hoping the basket wouldn’t catch it,” Steele said of Happ’s play. “I knew it was either a basket ball or it was going to get caught. But just glad it stayed in.”
One day after a four-run first inning in the opener, the Brewers looked for another fast start. They put runners on second and third with one out, but Willy Adames lined to second and Andruw Monasterio struck out swinging.
The Cubs then jumped in front in the bottom half of the first. Nico Hoerner was hit by a pitch and advanced to third on Ian Happ’s double before scampering home on Cody Bellinger’s groundout to second.
MAKING A MOVE
The Cubs placed reliever José Cuas on the bereavement list and recalled left-hander Anthony Kay from Triple-A Iowa.
Brewers: 1B Carlos Santana (right ankle) missed his second straight game. “He’s actually getting better as the day goes on here,” Counsell said. “So optimistic for tomorrow.” … OF Jesse Winker (back) is nearing the limit for his rehab stint with Triple-A Nashville, and Counsell said they will make a decision on the next step after the series finale.
Cubs: RHP Marcus Stroman (rib cartilage fracture) has been cleared for light activity after a checkup showed signs of healing with his injury. “He’s starting to move around,” Ross said. “It’s feeling better.” There remains no timetable for his return. … RHP Michael Fulmer (forearm strain) could resume throwing in the next few days. … RHP Brad Boxberger (right forearm strain) is slated to make another rehab appearance with Triple-A Iowa on Wednesday. … RHP Nick Burdi (nerve irritation) is expected to resume throwing this week. … LHP Brandon Hughes (left knee inflammation) is expected to throw another live batting practice this week.
Right-handers Brandon Woodruff (3-1, 2.65 ERA) ad Kyle Hendricks (5-7, 3.80 ERA) take the mound Wednesday for the series finale. Woodruff pitched Milwaukee to a 7-3 victory over San Diego on Friday, striking out 11 in six sharp innings. Hendricks is 1-1 with a 3.13 ERA in his last four starts for Chicago.