Fowler returns with a homer, Cubs down Brewers 5-2

The tone for Saturday's game might have been set on a first-inning sequence that started with a tough grounder to second baseman Javy Baez with one out that he and shortstop Addison Russell couldn't turn into a double play.

"It started off with me throwing the ball away, so I kind of did it myself there". Travis Wood, Justin Grimm, Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon (17th save) combined for three hitless innings, with four strikeouts and a pair of harmless walks.

Lackey got out of the inning and stranded the bases loaded in the third but in the fourth inning, fell behind, 2-1, to Nieuwenhuis, who made it a 3-0 game with a solo home run off the batter's eye in center.

Twins 2, Red Sox 1: Kyle Gibson allowed two hits and one run over eight innings, and Brian Dozier homered to lead Minnesota. He inherited two runners and eventually gave up a three-run home run to Kirk Nieuwenhuis-his second home run of the game. He fouled off five consecutive offerings before capping the 12-pitch at-bat with a homer to left-center.

Scooter Gennett plated two for the Brewers, while Will Smith took the loss.

In the midst of a five-game trip against the Brewers and then the Chicago White Sox, the Cubs won't board a plane until jetting to Oakland for a series against the A's beginning August 3. "It was nearly too much", Nathan said.

Nathan gave up a leadoff triple to Villar in the sixth and a walk before striking out 3-4-5 hitters Braun, Jonathan Lucroy and Chris Carter.

Even pregame ceremonies had some Chicago flair when cornerback Charles "Peanut" Tillman, who retired earlier Friday after signing a one-day contract with the NFL's Bears, threw out a ceremonial first pitch. "Definitely got some rest".

"It seems like he gets better as the game goes on, which I think is a good trait". With the lone relief appearance coming as a member of the Detroit Tigers, he was ultimately forced to the sideline after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his ailing right elbow.

As it stands today, Nathan owns a career 2.89 ERA accompanied by 377 saves and 967 strikeouts across a total of 917 innings of work. "We had some opportunities to add on runs in general, just to score runs and we didn't capture those opportunities", Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said.

Brewers: RHP Zach Davies (6-4) has turned into one of the team's top starters in his first full year in the majors.

"I felt pretty good for the most part", said Lackey, who fell to 3-2 with a 4.68 road ERA, compared to his 4-5 mark and 2.48 ERA at Wrigley Field.

Vanessa Coleman