MILWAUKEE — Kyle Schwarber’s grand slam capped a five-run sixth inning and powered the Chicago Cubs to a 10-5 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday night in the opener of a crucial four-game series.
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 games behind the Cardinals, who routed San Francisco 10-0.
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.
Willson Contreras reached on a swinging bunt to reload the bases. Schwarber then sent the first pitch 442 feet to right-center for his 34th homer and second grand slam of the season.
Jose Quintana (13-8) allowed four runs on five hits, including two homers, in five innings to improve to 9-1 in his last 12 starts.
Contreras finished a triple short of the cycle, driving in two runs on four hits. On his second double, he rounded second in the eighth inning before heading back to the bag instead of trying for a triple.
Ben Zobrist reached five times with three singles and two walks, scoring three times.
David Bote, recalled from the minors earlier in the day, made it 10-5 in the ninth with his 11th homer.
Yasmani Grandal brought the Brewers even at 4 in the fifth a two-run homer, his 23rd, off Quintana.
Contreras tied it with his 21st homer to open the fourth off Chase Anderson
Jay Jackson (1-1) relieved to begin the fifth, walking Zobrist and allowing a single to Nicholas Castellanos. After Kris Bryant struck out, Rizzo lined a two-run double down the right field line to make it 4-2.
Hernan Perez put the Brewers up 2-1 in the second with a two-run homer, his sixth.
KIMBREL TO INJURED LIST
Cubs closer Craig Kimbrel was placed on the 10-day IL with elbow inflammation, retroactive to Monday. The right-hander has not pitched since allowing a three-run homer to Milwaukee slugger Christian Yelich on Sunday. Bote was recalled from Triple-A Iowa.
Cubs: All-Star SS Javier Baez was scratched from the starting lineup with lingering soreness in his left thumb.
Brewers: 3B Mike Moustakas, bothered by a bruised left hand, was not in the lineup and is day-to-day. “It’s more than just a bone bruise or a bruise to some tissue,” manager Craig Counsell said. “There are some other things being affected. The tendons in his hand are being affected and it’s just not healing as quickly as we’d like.” ... C Manny Pina left after the fourth inning with head discomfort, the team announced.
Cubs: LHP Cole Hamels (7-5, 3.69 ERA) makes his fifth start this season against Milwaukee. In his last start, also vs. the Brewers, he took the loss despite giving up just two runs in six innings. Hamels is 1-3 with a 6.43 ERA in his last seven starts.
Brewers: RHP Zach Davies (8-7, 3.76) is 0-5 with a 7.76 ERA over his last six starts. In his most recent start Saturday against the Cubs, he did not allow a run in 4 2/3 innings but did not get a decision.