MILWAUKEE — Dexter Fowler led off the first with a homer and drove in three runs in his first game back from the disabled list, powering the Chicago Cubs to a 5-2 win over the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday night.
Fowler went 3 for 4 with a walk and scored twice after being sidelined more than a month with a strained right hamstring. His two-run double to left with the bases loaded in the second drew rousing cheers from the bevy of Cubs fans visiting Milwaukee.
Jason Hammel (9-5) allowed four hits and two runs over five-plus innings for his second victory since the All-Star break for NL Central-leading Chicago. He never trailed after Fowler slugged a 3-1 pitch from Jimmy Nelson (6-8) over the center-field wall to lead off the game.
Hernan Perez had a run-scoring double for the Brewers, and Ryan Braun hit a solo homer.
There were so many fans in Chicago shirts that their boos drowned out cheers from Brewers backers when Braun stepped to the plate in fourth. Braun went deep to center on the first pitch of the at-bat from Hammel for his 14th homer of the year.
Hammel departed after allowing a leadoff double to Scooter Gennett in the sixth with the Brewers trailing 4-2. Reliever Carl Edwards Jr. then retired the Brewers’ 3-4-5 hitters in order, capped by strikeouts of Jonathan Lucroy and Chris Carter on six pitches total.
By the end of the night, Miller Park felt more like Wrigley Field North after Hector Rondon pitched a scoreless ninth for his 17th save, getting Ramon Flores to fly out to the warning track in right with a runner on second.
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.
Fowler finished a triple short of the cycle. He had two of the four hits allowed by Nelson, who walked three and allowed four runs — two unearned — in five innings.