By JAY COHEN | AP Baseball Writer
CHICAGO (AP) — Jesse Winker is working on a smooth transition to the Milwaukee Brewers. A couple of big hits in the team's first series definitely helps.
Winker had two hits and three RBIs, including a key two-run single in Milwaukee's five-run sixth inning, and the Brewers beat Jameson Taillon and the Chicago Cubs 9-5 on Sunday.
Christian Yelich, Garrett Mitchell and Brice Turang also had two hits apiece — part of a 13-hit attack for Milwaukee in the rubber game of the opening set between NL Central rivals. Eric Lauer (1-0) pitched 5 1/3 innings of two-run ball, settling down after a shaky start.
“I thought we swung the bats very well,” manager Craig Counsell said. “Put the ball in play a lot at the right times, and with the amount of traffic we had, that led to some good results.”
Winker was acquired in a December trade with Seattle. He had a pinch RBI single in the eighth inning of Milwaukee's 3-1 win on Saturday.
“I think the first thing we want to do as hitters is see the ball,” Winker said, “and I feel like I'm seeing the ball. So I feel comfortable with that.”
Taillon (0-1) was charged with three runs and seven hits in four innings in his Chicago debut. The 6-foot-5 right-hander signed a $68 million, four-year contract in free agency — one of the biggest moves in a busy offseason for the Cubs.
“There’s definitely some extra adrenaline but at (this) stage of my career, I guess I would have hoped that I’ve learned how to deal with that and make the adjustments on the fly and find a way to go six or seven,” Taillon said.
Patrick Wisdom hit two solo homers for Chicago, which won 4-0 on Thursday on opening day. Dansby Swanson went 1 for 4 with a walk and an RBI single.
Milwaukee went ahead to stay on Mitchell's RBI triple in the fourth, and then broke it open in the sixth.
Winker's single into the gap in left-center drove in Turang and Joey Wiemer for a 5-2 lead. Willy Adames followed with another RBI single against Julian Merryweather.
Brian Anderson added a sacrifice fly and Mitchell had another run-scoring single as the Brewers sent 10 batters to the plate.
Trailing 9-3 in the eighth, Yan Gomes nearly hit a grand slam for Chicago, but he had to settle for a sacrifice fly when Wiemer caught his drive at the wall in right field. A Cody Bellinger fielder's choice drove in another run before Wisdom was retired, ending the inning.
WALK THIS WAY
The Cubs issued 15 walks in the series, including six in the finale.
“A lot of that is guys touching the bump for the first time,” manager David Ross said. "Maybe some of the adrenaline early on, maybe the cold weather, some things like that. I don’t think that’s how we’re built. But definitely we got to stay away from free passes.”
THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT
Turang, Mitchell and Wiemer are all rookies. Gus Varland, another rookie, worked a scoreless inning in each of his two appearances in the series.
“All four of those guys bring great elements to our team,” Winker said. “They play the game extremely hard, play the game right, and it's so much fun to watch.”
NOT BAD AT ALL
Lauer allowed five hits, struck out six and walked two. The left-hander struggled in spring training, yielding 15 earned runs in 11 2/3 innings.
“I think that's kind of the step you take in season, is where you go more to compete mode rather than ‘OK, I’m working on things' mode,” he said.
Brewers: RHP Freddy Peralta starts Milwaukee's home opener on Monday against the New York Mets. RHP Carlos Carrasco pitches for the Mets in the opener of a three-game set.
Cubs: LHP Drew Smyly starts Monday night at Cincinnati in the opener of a three-game series. RHP Connor Overton takes the mound for the Reds.
Follow Jay Cohen at https://twitter.com/jcohenap
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