MILWAUKEE -- There are a lot of reasons the Chicago Cubs are making a laughing stock of the National League Playoff race, but their bench corps might be the team's most overlooked component.
Monday, it was a pair of reserves -- Chris Coghlan and Miguel Montero -- who led the way, combining for four hits, three RBI and a pair of runs as Chicago rallied late for a 7-1 victory at Milwaukee.
"We're so deep," said Coghlan, who went 2-for-2 and drove in three after entering the game as a pinch-hitter in the seventh. (Manager) Joe (Maddon) picks his spots, gives guys breathers and the guys on the bench can be playing every day for different teams."
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Coghlan was dealt to Oakland in February but returned though a June trade and is hitting .231 in 65 at-bats. Montero began the season as Chicago's starting catcher but lost that job in August after prospect Wilson Contreras was summoned from Triple-A.
"I give them a lot of credit, because it would be easy to turn the dimmer switch down a bit, and they have not," Maddon said. "They've gone the other way."
Chicago will try to take another step toward locking down a postseason berth Tuesday when Jason Hammel takes the mound against the Brewers at Miller Park.
Hammel snapped a two-game losing streak with his last outing, giving up just a run on three hits with three walks and six strikeouts over six innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
"He was really good," Maddon said. "His stuff was very good."
Hammel has thrived against the Brewers. In 14 career starts, he's 10-1 against them with a 2.50 ERA , and is 1-1 this season after tossing seven scoreless innings on Aug. 16 at Wrigley Field.
Milwaukee, which had won four in a row before dropping the series opener, looks to get back to its winning ways behind right-hander Wily Peralta.
Peralta had the worst ERA (6.68) among qualifiers when he was demoted to Triple-A Colorado Springs in June but since returning in early August, he has a 3.00 ERA over his last five starts and is starting to look much more like the pitcher Milwaukee had in mind when Peralta was named the team's opening day starter.
Peralta took the no-decision his last time out but pitched well, holding the St. Louis Cardinals to just a run on three hits with 10 strikeouts over a season-best seven innings in a 2-1 loss at Miller Park.
"That was his best start of the year, for sure," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "The slider and the fastball were both equally good. The fastball was down and heavy, the slider was certainly swing-and-miss tonight. He pitched very, very well. He's really strung together a bunch of good starts since he's been back. He's pitched well since he's been back, he's pitched very well."
The Cubs, though, have been a bit of a nemesis for him. Peralta's faced Chicago 11 times over his career, going 3-7 with a 4.09 ERA. He has yet to face the Cubs this season.