CHICAGO — A day after celebrating their NL Central title, the Chicago Cubs and Jake Arrieta were far from championship form.
Ryan Braun went deep twice to reach 30 homers for the sixth time, Chris Carter hit a grand slam off the Wrigley Field video board and the Milwaukee Brewers routed the Cubs 11-3 on Saturday.
Braun had five RBIs, including a pair of two-run homers. He reached 30 home runs for the first time since he had a career-high 41 in 2012, before his 65-game suspension for violations of baseball’s drug agreement and labor contract.
Carter hit his 35th homer, a drive off Spencer Patton that would have traveled 438 if it had landed unimpeded, according to MLB’s Statcast. Domingo Santana added a solo shot and Scooter Gennett doubled twice.
“We missed locations on several pitches and give them credit, they did not miss the baseball,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.
Arrieta (17-7), the 2015 NL Cy Young Award winner, gave up four runs — three earned — four hits and four walks in six innings. He is 3-2 with a 4.58 ERA and 21 walk in his last six starts.
And in this one, the wind was blowing out on a warm day.
“I’m a lot more excited to face Jake Arrieta than when the wind is blowing in,” Braun said. “This is as close as we’ll get to a playoff atmosphere, obviously. So as a player, as a competitor, it’s a lot fun.”
Maddon and Arrieta said they believe the right-hander can polish his control in time for the postseason.
“It’s fixable, I really believe that,” Maddon said. “If we can get him to get better command of his fastball over the next two starts, everything else will play off of that.”
Arrieta thinks his sinker is the starting point.
“I just need to find that comfort with the sinker in the strike zone, first pitch,” he said. “After that it opens up a lot of doors. … Just have to be better early in the counts to prevent guys from taking pitches and getting into 2-1, 3-1 counts. I’ve got a couple of starts before October and just to prepare for that. That’s the mindset.”
Chris Coghlan hit a two-run homer and Kris Bryant tripled in a run in the first. Maddon used a starting lineup of mostly reserves after the Cubs celebrated winning the division, a title they clinched late on Thursday night.
“You’re going to see a normal lineup out there tomorrow,” Maddon said.
Milwaukee’s Zach Davies (11-7) settled down after allowing three runs in the first, giving up seven hits in five innings. Four pitchers combined for one-hit relief.
BEING THE BEST
The Cubs are six games ahead of Washington with the best record in the majors. Holding on would assure Chicago of home-field advantage throughout the NL playoffs.
Maddon pointed to last season’s NL Championship Series, when Chicago was swept by the New York Mets.
“We want to have the best record in baseball and we do want to have home-field advantage,” Maddon said. “Does it matter at the end of the day? We’ll find out.”
Brewers: RHP Junior Guerra’s season was ended because of an innings limit. . Milwaukee recalled outfielder Michael Reed from Triple-A Colorado Springs to help fill a gap created by injuries to outfielders Keon Broxton (right wrist fracture) and Kirk Nieuwenhuis (abdominal strain). Broxton will miss the remainder of the season and Nieuwenhuis will be re-evaluated on Monday.
RHP Wily Peralta (6-10, 5.42) is to start Sunday for the Brewers and NL ERA leader Kyle Hendricks (15-7, 2.03) for the Cubs. Hendricks, a right-hander who took a no-hit bid into the ninth inning Monday at St. Louis, is 11-1 with a 1.27 ERA in his last 16 outings.