MILWAUKEE – Wade Davis has been the rock of the Cubs bullpen all season long.
But even the most solid of rocks can be moved or get worn down over the course of time.
After being perfect in a club-record 32 straight saves to start a Cubs career, Davis finally blew a save, and it came Saturday in a 4-3 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park.
With the Cubs leading 2-1 entering the bottom of the ninth inning, Davis gave up a leadoff home run to Orlando Arcia.
For a third straight day, the Cubs and Brewers went to extra innings. The Cubs played small ball to score a run, but in the bottom of the 10th, Ryan Braun doubled with one, and Travis Shaw crushed an opposite-field homer to left-center on a 1-0 pitch.
The Brewers (82-73), whose playoff hopes are teetering, celebrated at home plate as they snapped a three-game losing streak.
The Cubs have more margin with which to work. They remain in first place in the National League Central at 86-68.
Davis did not pitch in Friday, but he did enter a second inning of work for the second time in three days.
“I don’t know,” he said as he faced reporters at his locker. “My arm was dragging a little bit. I just made a lot of bad pitches and good pitches for them to hit.”
Davis said he wanted to get the 0-1 pitch to Arcia “in more” on an 0-1 count. He termed the pitch to Shaw a “hanging curveball.”
Lest you think anyone was hanging his head in the Cubs clubhouse, even after a tough loss, think again. The music was playing, but not blaring, as players dressed and exited.
And no one was hanging this one on Davis.
“No, there’s nothing to lament right there,” manager Joe Maddon said. “They hit a couple home runs. Give them credit. Another intensely good baseball game, and they got us at the end. But there’s no way, shape or form to point a finger at Wade.”
There’s nothing flashy or flamboyant about the 32-year-old Davis, either on the mound, in the clubhouse or in the bullpen during games.
Kyle Hendricks started for the Cubs and worked six innings of eight-hit, one-run ball as he turned in his eighth quality start in a row.
The Brewers scored a run off Hendricks in the first before Ian Happ’s RBI single tied the game in the second. The Cubs took a 2-1 lead in the eighth on a sacrifice fly by Kris Bryant after Happ (double) and Jason Heyward (walk) reached and were bunted to second by Jon Jay.
In the top of the 10th, Happ walked and was sacrificed to second by Heyward in a rare spasm of late-inning small-ball by Maddon against Jeremy Jeffress as the Cubs tried to stay out of a double play. Jay singled to center to give the Cubs a short-lived lead.
The Brewers fans in Saturday’s sellout crowd of 44,067 got to celebrate a victory in the 10th instead of going home crushed.
It’s been that kind of series.
“Absolutely,” Maddon said. “It’s a fabulous series to this point. There’s no difference between these three games and the games that are going to occur the next month. They’re absolutely that intense, well played on both sides. Give both teams credit.”