CHICAGO -- Yovani Gallardo and the Milwaukee Brewers haven't had the year that either had hoped for.
Hopefully finishing strong can put a positive spin on a disappointing season for both.
Gallardo pitched seven strong innings to lead the Brewers to a 3-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Sunday. Since returning in mid-August from a stint on the disabled list because of a hamstring injury, Gallardo is 3-0 with a 1.35 earned run average and looks like the ace who won 16 and 17 games, respectively, the previous two seasons.
"I've been feeling good," he said. "That's the main thing and to be consistent. The year hasn't gone the way I wanted it to, but coming off the DL kind of refreshes the mental side and you can go out there and just pitch."
Gallardo (11-9) allowed just three hits in his seven innings with one walk and six strikeouts.
The Cubs, who dropped to 29-46 at Wrigley Field, could only muster a Junior Lake home run on offense, and wasted a strong but brief outing by starter Scott Baker, who had five shutout innings in his first start of the season following Tommy John Surgery in 2012.
"It felt very good," said Baker, who threw just 55 pitches before being pinch hit for in the fifth. "There were some emotions there. It's been a long road and I was happy my family was here to share this moment because they're just as much a part of this as I am. Rehab process is hard on everyone just not the player himself. It's been a long road so that definitely plays into it being a very special day for me and my family."
Lake's fifth-inning blast gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead and it appeared that Baker might be the feel-good story of the day. But the Brewers rallied in the top of the seventh to turn the game around.
Former Cub Aramis Ramirez started things with a one-out double down the left-field line off reliever Justin Grimm (0-1). Carlos Gomez followed with a single to right field, also off Grimm. Ramirez was held at third base, but the throw from Nate Schierholtz missed the cut-off man, allowing Gomez to take second.
Left-hander James Russell then was brought in by Cubs manager Dale Sveum with lefty Scooter Gennett due up. But Brewers manager Ron Roenicke countered with righty Jeff Bianchi to pinch hit and he delivered a single up the middle to plate both runners and put the Brewers on top, 2-1.
"That was the ballgame, basically," Roenicke said of Bianchi's hit. "If he doesn't get that hit, we're still trailing and we probably end up hitting for Yovani."
Following a walk and a fielder's choice for the second out, Gallardo was allowed to bat and provided a little insurance with a single to left to score Bianchi to make it 3-1.
The Brewers bullpen had a scoreless two innings and closer Jim Henderson worked a perfect ninth for his 24th save in 28 chances.
But clearly, the star of the night was Gallardo.
"His command was really good," Roenicke said. "He's had his good command for quite a few starts. After a rough start for him this season, he's bounced back and he has life on his balls. All of his pitches, he's [throwing] well."
To make room for Baker on the 40-man roster, the Cubs designated INF Cody Ransom for assignment. "Unfortunately, Ransom's been here all year and it's kind of a weird time to designate someone on Sept. 8," manager Dale Sveum said. "It's an unfortunate thing, but it's part of the business." Ransom, 37, made 38 starts at 3B. He hit .189 with nine home runs and 20 RBI. ... Brewers OF Khris Davis (left wrist) hasn't played since Wednesday. With Monday's off-day, manager Ron Roenicke said he hopes Davis can return on Tuesday in St. Louis. ... The Cubs are at Cincinnati on Monday with Travis Wood (8-11) facing Bronson Arroyo (13-10). ... The Brewers are off until Tuesday when they begin a series in St. Louis with Wily Peralta (9-14) going against Shelby Miller (12-9).