Chris Rusin pitched five sparkling innings in his major league debut for the Chicago Cubs. He even collected his first career hit, a one-out triple in his first at-bat.
He just couldn't pick up a victory.
The slumping Cubs wasted Rusin's great start in a 5-2 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday night.
"It is always a good opportunity to get out there and do as good as you can and take advantage of it," Rusin said. "I thought I did all right, but we didn't get the win."
Rusin dropped a pitchers' duel against Marco Estrada, who struck out nine in six sparkling innings to win for the first time in almost a year.
"We didn't do a real good job of taking advantage of a lot of good pitches to hit," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "A lot of 'went down looking' on some pretty good pitches to hit."
Estrada (1-5) allowed two hits and walked one in his first win since Aug. 23, 2011, at Pittsburgh. He had made 15 starts and 14 relief appearances since his last victory.
"It feels like it's my first major league win," he said. "It feels amazing. I'm extremely happy right now. I'm sure the guys are happy for me."
Rusin had his contract purchased from Triple-A Iowa and needed only 35 pitches to retire his first nine batters.
"I was pretty nervous the first inning, but after that I settled down and took it from there," he said.
Sveum liked what he saw in the left-hander, a fourth-round pick in the 2009 draft.
"He got the job done for his first night," Sveum said. "He had some jitters. He did all right for his first time."
Estrada yielded Alfonso Soriano's leadoff double in the second and Rusin's first major league hit in the third. Estrada worked out of the jam when he retired David DeJesus on a comebacker and then struck out Josh Vitters looking to end the inning.
He retired 18 of 21 batters before turning over a 1-0 lead to Kameron Loe to start the seventh.
"Definitely, that's the best he's thrown all year," catcher Jonathan Lucroy said. "He controlled his fastball. He controlled his off-speed stuff."
Loe and Francisco Rodriguez each pitched a scoreless inning before the Cubs made it interesting in the ninth against Manny Parra.
Vitters doubled with one out. After Parra walked Anthony Rizzo, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke brought in Jim Henderson. Soriano then singled in Vitters and Starlin Castro ended Henderson's appearance when he drove in the second run grounding out to third.
John Axford, who had lost his role as closer earlier in the season, then came in and got Wellington Castillo to ground out to second for his 19th save in 27 chances.
Rusin (0-1) got into trouble in the fourth. He hit leadoff batter Norichika Aoki, who stole second. He walked Ryan Braun with one out before plunking Aramis Ramirez to load the bases. Corey Hart lined a shot off Rusin's left shin to score Aoki.
Sveum and assistant athletic trainer Ed Halbur came out to check on the pitcher, who stayed in the game and got Lucroy to hit into a double play that ended the inning.
"That first guy (Rusin) really kind of mystified us a little bit," Lucroy said. "When you have a really good changeup like that you're able to keep a lot of guys off balance."
Rusin, the ninth Cubs rookie pitcher to make his major league debut this season, allowed one hit, struck out four and walked two while throwing 76 pitches.
The Brewers scored three runs in the sixth on three walks, a wild pitch and Lucroy's two-run double off Alberto Cabrera. Carlos Gomez added a run-scoring single in the eighth.
NOTES: SS Jean Segura robbed Rusin of a hit in the fifth. Segura made a lunging dive behind second to catch Rusin's liner. ... Brewers RHP Shaun Marcum made his third rehab start at Class-A Wisconsin on Monday. He allowed a run and four hits in six innings. Barring any problem, he should start either Saturday or Sunday at Pittsburgh. ... The Cubs also added left-handed reliever Alex Hinshaw to the 25-man roster after claiming him off waivers Sunday. They optioned LHP Jeff Beliveau and INF Adrian Cardenas to Triple-A Iowa and transferred RHP Matt Garza to 60-day disabled list.