Kyle Schwarber helped the Cubs put some distance between themselves and the Milwaukee Brewers.
Schwarber launched a grand slam to cap a five-run sixth inning that sent Chicago to a 10-5 victory over Milwaukee on Thursday night in the opener of a crucial four-game series.
“That ball was beyond properly struck,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “If the back wall’s not there, that’s somewhere over, shoot, I don’t know, what’s on the other side? The lake? That ball was kilt. It was K-I-L-T, kilt.”
The third-place Brewers dropped 7½ games behind first-place St. Louis in the NL Central and five back of the Cubs for the second wild card. Chicago remained 2½ behind the Cardinals, who routed San Francisco 10-0.
“It’s a big series. We’re fighting for the division,” Schwarber said. “Whenever you’re in their environment, and you can take the first game, it’s a positive step. Now we have to focus on tomorrow and take game two.”
The Cubs loaded the bases with one out in the sixth on two singles and a walk against Matt Albers (5-5). Drew Pomeranz relieved and Anthony Rizzo lined a sacrifice fly to right field that put Chicago up 5-4.