MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Brewers lost two key players in a trade right before the game, and almost got the win anyway.
The bullpen just couldn't hold on.
The last-place Brewers lost for the fifth time in six games. They also traded outfielder Carlos Gomez and right-hander Mike Fiers to Houston for four prospects: left-hander Josh Hader, right-hander Adrian Houser and outfielders Brett Phillips and Domingo Santana.
"It was so close to the game I wasn't even in the clubhouse," Nelson said. "Fiers is a good friend of mine. Gomez is a spark plug to this team."
Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said the traded players will be missed.
"Nobody is ever going to forget Carlos Gomez. He made an impact on the Brewers. I love watching the guy play," Counsell said. "Mike has been this under-the-radar guy who has established himself as a major league starter. He never took a back seat to anybody and he had to fight for everything he got."
Nelson struck out eight and walked three. He also threw seven scoreless innings in his previous start at Arizona.
The Cubs put two runners on in the seventh, but Nelson struck out Kris Bryant swinging to end the inning. Nelson yelled and pumped his right arm as he left the mound to a loud ovation.
"To me, that was the game right there," Nelson said.
Smith retired his first two batters, but Rizzo connected for his 18th homer to give the Cubs a 3-2 lead. It was only the second home run allowed by Smith this season.
"Nelson pitched really well," Rizzo said. "We came through there (in the eighth). We got two guys on and got the big inning. Just huge for us."
Chicago added two runs in the ninth on Bryant's sacrifice fly and Kyle Schwarber's RBI single.
"The whole night, it wasn't going our way," Chicago manager Joe Maddon said. "But I liked the way we worked. And then eventually Riz steps up and does what he can do."
The Brewers broke through for two runs in the third against Jake Arrieta. Gerardo Parra led off with a single, giving him a career-high 14-game hitting streak. Parra stole second and scored on Jonathan Lucroy's double. Ryan Braun's infield single drove in Lucroy.
Arrieta gave up five hits in six innings.
LET'S MAKE A DEAL
Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said don't expect his team to sit still after the non-waiver trade deadline on Friday.
"I've made a lot of pretty good deals in my career after July 31st," he said. "We acquired (Jonathan) Broxton after the deadline last year."
Cubs: C Miguel Montero continues to make progress in recovering from a sprained left thumb. Montero has been on the disabled list since July 17. "He's very adamant that he feels really good," Maddon said. Montero likely will be sent on a brief rehab assignment. ... Bryant didn't start so he could rest. He hit for Arrieta in the seventh and took over at third.
Cubs: Jason Hammel (5-5, 3.20 ERA) is 6-0 with a 2.25 ERA in eight career starts against the Brewers. He faced Milwaukee in consecutive starts in May, registering a win while surrendering five earned runs over 13 innings.
Brewers: Rookie Taylor Jungmann (5-2, 2.14 ERA) will make his 10th start of the season on Friday night. Milwaukee is 6-3 in those starts. Opponents are batting .210 (43-for-205) with just two home runs against Jungmann.