Cubs close in on NL Central title, Quintana tops Brewers 5-0

Chicago Cubs' Ben Zobrist, center, celebrates his two-run home run against the Milwaukee Brewers as he enters the dugout during the seventh inning of an baseball game Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Darren Hauck)
Chicago Cubs pitcher Jose Quintana throws to the Milwaukee Brewers during the first inning of an baseball game Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Darren Hauck)
Chicago Cubs pitcher Jose Quintana kisses the winning ball after pitching a complete game shutout against the Milwaukee Brewers during an baseball game Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Darren Hauck)
Chicago Cubs' Ben Zobrist watches his two-run home run against the Milwaukee Brewers during the seventh inning of an baseball game Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Darren Hauck)
Milwaukee Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun reacts after striking out against the Chicago Cubs during the sixth inning of an baseball game, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Darren Hauck)
Chicago Cubs left fielder Jon Jay, right, scores off of a RBI double from Kris Bryant against the Milwaukee Brewers during the fourth inning of an baseball game, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Darren Hauck)

MILWAUKEE — Jose Quintana was acquired by the Chicago Cubs for big games, and he came through big against the Brewers.

Quintana pitched a three-hitter for his second big league shutout, and the Cubs beat Milwaukee 5-0 on Sunday to close in on a second straight NL Central title and damage the Brewers' playoff hopes.

Coming off its first World Series title since 1908, Chicago (87-68) won three of four in the weekend series and opened a 5½-game lead over the second-place Brewers (82-73) with seven games remaining.

Obtained from the White Sox on July 13, Quintana is pitching on a team headed for the playoffs for the first time in his big league career.

"We talked about it when he got over here," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "He was really jacked up about having a chance to play in the playoffs. He's showing that right now. Games like that, to me, can be kind of career-altering for a pitcher. When you pitch a complete game shutout, on the road, under these circumstances, that definitely does something for your interior."

Quintana (7-3 with Cubs, 11-11 overall) struck out 10 and walked one in his second complete game in 182 starts. He threw 116 pitches, his most since Sept. 7 last year.

He allowed singles to Ryan Braun in the first, Hernan Perez in the third and Keon Broxton in the fifth, and retired his final 11 batters after Domingo Santana walked in the sixth.

Only two runners reached second base, with both getting into scoring position on a stolen base. Quintana struck out pitcher Chase Anderson with Broxton on second in the fifth and got Travis Shaw to fly out to center with Santana on second in the sixth.

"I felt really good out there," Quintana said. "I'm so happy to get this last game of this series. I know it was a huge game. My confidence was high. I was able to save the bullpen after the last three games."

Quintana's other shutout was a seven-hitter for the Chicago White Sox against Cleveland on July 24, 2015.

Milwaukee began the day one game behind Colorado for the NL's second wild card. The Brewers have six games left.

"I know we are behind, but I feel like if we have a good week of baseball it is more dependent on us and not counting on something else to happen completely," manager Craig Counsell said.

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More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

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