CHICAGO — Manny Piña wouldn’t have been surprised if Milwaukee Brewers manager Craig Counsell had chosen a different player to pinch hit in the seventh inning Saturday.
“Sometimes the manager doesn’t want to use the backup catcher in that situation,” Piña said. “But that was good for him today to think Manny was the right guy to change the game.”
It certainly was.
Piña connected for a tiebreaking two-run homer in the seventh inning and the Brewers held off the Chicago Cubs for a 4-3 victory at Wrigley Field.
Brent Suter (2-1) pitched two scoreless innings in relief of Freddy Peralta, helping Milwaukee improve to 4-1 on its six-game trip. Josh Hader got three outs for his fourth save in as many opportunities, working around a leadoff walk.
Keston Hiura had three hits and Kolten Wong finished with two as the Brewers bounced back from a 15-2 loss in the series opener Friday.
“Yesterday had already passed and we came here this morning to keep fighting,” Piña said.
Cubs manager David Ross was ejected by plate umpire Corey Blaser in the ninth following a strike one call on Jake Marisnick with a runner on first and none out. Marisnick struck out on three pitches.
“That looked extremely high,” Ross said. “That was a bad call. I mean, plain and simple.”
Jason Heyward homered for Chicago, which had won four in a row. Eric Sogard had three hits.
The Cubs jumped in front on Nico Hoerner’s two-run double in the second. After a shaky start, Adbert Alzolay retired 12 in a row.
Hiura broke up Alzolay’s streak with a leadoff double in the fifth. Making his major league debut in his hometown of Chicago, pinch hitter Corey Ray walked with two out to put runners on the corners.
Ross then brought in left-hander Rex Brothers, who walked Wong and Omar Narváez to force in a run. Brothers also hit Tyrone Taylor in the foot to force in another run, tying it at 2.
Counsell credited the walk by Ray, selected fifth overall in the 2015 draft, for sparking the rally.
“The biggest part, we got Brothers in the game,” Counsell said. “That was probably earlier than they wanted and it turned the game for us.”
Piña’s blast with one out in the seventh off Andrew Chafin (0-1) put the Brewers on top. Piña’s second homer of the season and third career pinch homer drove in Wong, who led off with a single.
Heyward went deep against Devin Williams with two out in the eighth.
The last time Brandon Woodruff faced the Cubs on April 13, Chicago’s Ryan Tepera admitted he threw behind Woodruff as retaliation for the right-hander hitting Willson Contreras earlier in the game.
Woodruff is schedduled to face the Cubs again in the finale of the three-game series, but said Saturday he’s not thinking about the incident.
“I knew the questions would come, but I’ve put it behind me,” he said. “I’m focused on going out and competing and doing my job.”
The Brewers placed pitchers Brett Anderson (right leg) and Josh Lindblom (right knee) on the 10-day injured list and recalled Ray and right-hander Phil Bickford from the team’s alternate site.
The Brewers said Anderson had a strained right hamstring. Counsell indicated an MRI showed Anderson had a strain in "the upper part of his calf, almost right behind his knee."
Brewers officials described Lindblom's injury as right knee effusion.
Counsell didn't offer a timetable for Anderson's return and said it's still not set who will replace him in the rotation.
The Cubs optioned left-hander Kyle Ryan to their alternate site to make room for Alzolay.
From the infirmary
Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich (lower back) was eligible to be activated from the 10-day injured list on Saturday but instead was sent back to Milwaukee for an MRI.
“Nothing happened yesterday,” Counsell said. “We’re just at a plateau, and so we’re just trying to rule everything out and see if we can get any new ... piece of information.”
Yelich hasn't played since April 11. The Brewers placed him on the injured list April 17, with the move retroactive to April 14.
He is batting .333 with one homer and six RBIs in nine games this season.
The Brewers also have been missing center fielder Lorenzo Cain, who went on the injured list April 14 with a quadriceps strain. Counsell said Cain would hit on the field Saturday and it "could be a stepping-stone day for him."
"Running at full speed is going to be the last thing you conquer during this," Counsell said. "He hasn't been on the field hitting yet. We're putting him out there today. That's progress."
Milwaukee swept a series in San Diego this week without Yelich and Cain thanks to the play of some reserves.
Woodruff (1-0, 1.96 ERA) faces the Cubs for the third time this season. The righty has two no-decisions in the previous starts, allowing one run in 13 innings. Right-hander Jake Arrieta (3-1, 2.86 ERA) is scheduled to start for Chicago on Sunday.
Watch now: 5 of the Brewers' most eye-popping defensive plays so far this season
April 1: Luis Urias' debut
The Brewers wanted to see what Luis Urias could do at shortstop this season and he didn't make them wait long to find out. Three pitches into the first inning of the season, Urias made a leaping grab to rob Twins leadoff hitter Luis Arraez of a base hit.
Urias, 23, was expected to share time at shortstop with Orlando Arcia, but now the job is his after the Brewers dealt Arcia to Atlanta for a pair of right-handed pitchers.
"He has earned this and it's an important time for him," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "He's going to get a great opportunity here."
April 6: Kolten Wong's double play
Kolten Wong's two Gold Glove Awards were a primary reason the Brewers signed him to a two-year, $18 million contract ahead of Spring Training and while he hasn't made much of an impact at the plate, his defense has already lived up to expectations.
Wong put his elite glove work on display late in the April 6 game against the Cubs. The Brewers led, 4-0, when Brad Boxberger drilled Cubs catcher Willson Contreras to lead off the ninth. With left-handed hitting Anthony Rizzo up, Milwaukee's infield went into a full shift with Wong lined a up a few steps over and behind first baseman Travis Shaw — perfectly positioned to scoop up Rizzo's grounder.
But instead of just tossing to Shaw for the easy out, Wong was able to turn around, get a throw off to third baseman Daniel Robertson who charged the bag for the force then got the relay to first in time to retire Rizzo.
At first glance, the play looked to be a routine double play, but Counsell said Wong's skill disguised its difficulty.
"It’s a hard play that he made look very easy, that’s the best way I can describe it," Counsell said. "The degree of difficulty was much more than Kolten made it seem. That’s what great defenders do: they make hard plays look fairly routine.
"Once he put it in his glove, the double play looked fairly routine."
April 7: Avisail Garcia saves the shutout
Brandon Woodruff's no-hit bid had just been spoiled by an Ian Happ single and the Cubs were threatening to break a scoreless tie when Kris Bryant sent a 3-2 fastball to shallow right field.
Avisail Garcia charged, slid and hauled it in to rob Bryant of a single, snuff out a potential rally and close out a sparkling effort for Woodruff.
"Honestly, when Bryant hit that I did not think that there was going to be a shot to catch it," Woodruff said. "Then the ball just kind of hung up there at the last second and he kind of closed in on it and made a heck of a catch. That was huge."
It turned out to be even bigger when Lorenzo Cain hit the first of his two go-ahead home runs in the eighth inning as the Brewers clinched the series with a 4-1, 10-inning victory.
April 10: Travis Shaw's diving stop
Most of the discussion when Shaw returned to the Brewers on a minor league deal this spring focused on his bat, and while he's been one of the team's best offensive performers so far, he's also provided steady defense at third base.
Shaw made a number of important plays April 10 against the Cardinals, including a diving stop to rob Austin Dean of a game-tying single with two out in the fourth inning and a nice backhanded grab to start a double play later in the game.
"Just play after play," Counsell said. "He had a big day and impacted the game in many ways."
April 10: Jackie Bradley Jr. robs Justin Williams
Moments after Dean cut the Brewers' lead to four with a three-run homer in the eighth off Josh Lindblom, Jackie Bradley Jr. charged to the wall in center to pull back what would have been a solo home run by Justin Williams for the first out of the inning.
"Jackie hasn’t gotten hot with the bat yet but I think he’s shown us defensively why he’s got such a great reputation," Counsell said.