CHICAGO — Ryan Braun reached the 30-homer mark for the first time since his drug-related suspension.
Braun hit a pair of two-run homers and drove in five runs Saturday in the Milwaukee Brewers’ 11-3 rout of the Chicago Cubs. He reached 30 for the first time since he had a career-high 41 in 2012, a year before his 65-game suspension for violations of baseball’s drug agreement and labor contract.
The wind was blowing out at Wrigley Field, and Braun homered off 2015 NL Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta (17-7) in the sixth to put Milwaukee ahead, 4-3.
“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.”
Braun is hitting .279 with 16 homers and 42 RBIs since the start of August.
“Since the trade deadline, he’s been outstanding,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “He’s swinging the bat really well. He’s driving in runs really well.”
Chris Carter hit his 35th homer, a drive off Spencer Patton that hit the video board and 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.
Milwaukee’s Zach Davies (11-7) was effective after giving up three runs in the first, allowing seven hits in five innings.
“Zach kind of settled them down by putting up four zeroes and getting out of that bases-loaded jam),” Counsell said in a reference to fourth-inning trouble. “To me, that was the key to the game.”
Four relievers limited the Cubs to just one hit and walked only one over four innings.
Arrieta 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 acknowledged he can’t afford to fall behind, especially on hitters like Braun.
“You go out in the sixth with a two run lead and wasn’t able to get out of that unscathed,” Arrieta said. “Just poor execution. I don’t think we were at our best today.”
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.