CHICAGO (AP) — It’s purely about the math for Anthony Rizzo and the Chicago Cubs.A three-game lead is better than a one-game advantage http://www.angelsfanproshop.com/authentic-reggie-jackson-jersey , and that was all that mattered Wednesday.Rizzo homered, drove in three runs and stole two bases in his return to the cleanup spot, and Chicago beat the Milwaukee Brewers 8-4 to strengthen its hold on the NL Central.The Cubs bounced back nicely from their 7-0 loss in the opener of the two-game series, improving to 9-4 against the Brewers this year. But they have six more games left in the season series and St. Louis is gaining quickly, so Rizzo and company coolly packed up their three-game advantage over the second-place Brewers and got ready for a six-game trip.It’s just about the numbers in the middle of August.“I think early on we knew it was going to come down to the wire,” Rizzo said, “so I don’t see us or any team pulling away like crazy. Winning games versus our division is always big, and this one was nice.”Jason Heyward added three hits and two RBIs as Chicago moved 19 games over .500, matching its season high. David Bote had two hits, scored twice and made a terrific barehanded play at third base in his first action since he hit a game-ending grand slam in Sunday night’s 4-3 victory over Washington.Kyle Hendricks (9-9) struck out eight in six-plus innings on his bobblehead day Andrelton Simmons Jersey , providing a lift for the Cubs after Jon Lester and Jose Quintana struggled in recent starts.“Psychologically, I mean obviously there was a lot of folks that would have been running for the hills had we lost,” manager Joe Maddon said. “The fact that you win the game, it settles down that method. There’s still a long way to go.”Milwaukee had a chance to inch closer to Chicago, but instead lost for the fourth time in six games. Junior Guerra (6-8) lasted just 3 2/3 innings, and first baseman Eric Thames committed an error that helped set up a run.“It was definitely a hard game,” Guerra said. “Some of the things just didn’t go our way today.”The Brewers, who are in position for a wild card, also lost left fielder Ryan Braun and catcher Manny Pina to injuries. Braun departed with tightness on the right side of his rib cage, and Pina hurt his left shoulder when he collided with Javier Baez while he was diving back to second in the seventh.Pina stayed in after the play and scored on Mike Moustakas’ single. But Erik Kratz took over behind the plate in the bottom half of the inning.“We’re going to take him to Milwaukee for tests tomorrow http://www.angelsfanproshop.com/authentic-yunel-escobar-jersey , but he was adamant about staying in the game,” manager Craig Counsell said. “It’s just kind of precautionary. So we’ll get some tests and we’ll see.”Braun is considered day to day. He got hurt trying to make a sliding catch on Heyward’s RBI double in the third.“I don’t anticipate making a quick move with this one, but if it lingers, we’re going to have to make a move,” Counsell said.Rizzo, who had been leading off, drove a 0-1 pitch from Guerra into the basket in left for a two-run shot in the first. The big first baseman also blooped a run-scoring single into center in the Cubs’ three-run fourth, helped by a partly cloudy sky that made life difficult for each team all afternoon.The Brewers closed to 7-4 on Hernan Perez’s RBI single in the seventh. But they wasted a chance for more when Travis Shaw popped out and Jonathan Schoop lined to left with the bases loaded, ending the inning.Albert Almora Jr. then led off the bottom half of the inning with a line drive into the bleachers in left . It was his first homer since June 28 and No. 5 on the year.MINOR MOVESThe Cubs acquired minor league outfielder Terrance Gore from Kansas City for a player to be named or cash. He was assigned to Triple-A Iowa.The speedy Gore is 0 for 11 in 49 major league games. But he has scored 14 times and swiped 21 bases.TRAINER’S ROOMBrewers: RHP Jimmy Nelson is unlikely to return this season after he had shoulder surgery in September, according to Counsell. … RHP Zach Davies Martin Maldonado Jersey , who is coming back from an inflamed right rotator cuff and tight lower back, could make another rehab appearance after he starts for Triple-A Colorado Springs on Thursday.UP NEXTBrewers: Following a day off, RHP Freddy Peralta (5-3, 4.47 ERA) faces Cardinals RHP Luke Weaver (6-10, 4.66 ERA) on Friday night in the opener of a big weekend series in St. Louis. Peralta was tagged for seven runs in three-plus innings in a 10-1 loss at Atlanta on Friday night.Cubs: Lester (12-5, 3.89 ERA) pitches Thursday night in the opener of a four-game series at Pittsburgh. He is 0-3 with a 10.32 ERA in five starts since the All-Star break. RHP Ivan Nova (7-6, 4.42 ERA) gets the ball for the Pirates. OAKLAND, Calif. — The Seattle Mariners will hope veteran right-hander Mike Leake continues his fine pitching against the Oakland Athletics when the two American League wild-card hopefuls meet for a second consecutive day on Friday night.The third-place Mariners (75-59) gained a game on the A’s (80-55) in the series opener when Wade LeBlanc rode a five-run first inning to a 7-1 victory that inched Seattle within 4 1/2 games in the battle for second place both in the AL West and AL wild-card race.The A’s not only lost a game to the Mariners but failed to gain ground in their pursuit of first place in the West and the top spot in the wild-card race after Houston (82-52) and the New York Yankees (84-50) had lost earlier in the evening.Article continues below ...Oakland will take the field Friday still 2 1/2 games behind the Astros and 4 1/2 back of the Yankees.Both the A’s and Mariners took the field for the series opener coming off losses, with the Mariners having dropped three in a row, including two straight at San Diego http://www.angelsfanproshop.com/authentic-j.-c.-ramirez-jersey , while the A’s were only a little more than 24 hours removed from an emotional walk-off loss at Houston.A’s manager Bob Melvin noted after Thursday’s loss that Wednesday’s defeat in Houston — in fact, the entire three games against the Astros during which Oakland suffered two close setbacks — played a role in the club’s opener of a nine-game homestand.“That last series took a lot out of us,” Melvin said. “That’s no excuse, but I saw a little (fatigue) today. Just one of those tough nights.”Leake (8-8, 4.03 ERA) has faced the A’s three times this season, with the Mariners winning all three, 7-4, 3-2 and 2-0. He did not get a decision in any of the wins despite allowing a total of just five runs and 15 hits in 20 2/3 innings.The 30-year-old has a 1-1 record and 2.50 ERA in six career starts against the A’s.Leake has been especially tough this season on A’s All-Star Jed Lowrie, holding him hitless in nine at-bats with two strikeouts.Oakland will pitch a veteran right-hander of its own, Mike Fiers (10-6 Darin Erstad Jersey , 3.15), who will be looking to remain unbeaten for the A’s in a fifth consecutive start since being acquired from Detroit.Fiers pitched Oakland to a 3-2 win at Seattle earlier this month, allowing two runs and six hits in six innings.It raised the 33-year-old’s lifetime record in seven starts against the Mariners to 2-1 with a 5.66 ERA, marks that include a 7-2 loss in May as a member of the Tigers.Jean Segura and Ben Gamel both homered off Fiers in that game.Segura was scratched from Thursday’s starting lineup because of a bruised left shin suffered when he fouled a pitch off his leg Wednesday in San Diego. He is expected to return sometime during the remainder of the series.Robinson Cano has been tough on Fiers in the past, going 5-for-14 (.357) with a double and two home runs.