Cubs 4, Brewers 2
CHICAGO (AP)—The Milwaukee Brewers had a 10-game winning streak and Ben Sheets was undefeated against Chicago. The Cubs had dropped two heartbreakers in St. Louis and were dragging after getting in late.
Sounds like a perfect situation for the Brewers, right? Not in Dusty Baker’s book.
“The way I look at it,” the Cubs manager said, “the odds were in our favor to win this one.”
Baker was right. Matt Clement allowed just two hits over the last five innings, and Chicago ended Milwaukee’s winning streak with a 4-2 victory Friday.
Wes Helms hit a solo homer, but it wasn’t enough for the Brewers, who lost for just the second time in the last 13 games.
Still, Milwaukee’s 10-game winning streak was its best since moving to the National League in 1998, and tied the second-longest in franchise history. The 1987 team opened the season with 13 straight wins.
“I think it shows our fans at home that this team has gotten better since April. It shows our team and our coaches that we have gotten better since April,” Helms said. “We are on our way.”
And the Brewers might still be rolling if not for Clement (12-11). He allowed just one earned run and seven hits in his second complete game of the year. He struck out six, walked none and retired 10 straight at one point.
He threw 127 pitches—85 for strikes—and saved one of his best for the very end. Facing Richie Sexson to start the ninth, Clement retired him on a broken-bat groundout.
“Clement, when he’s on, he’s as tough as any pitcher in the league,” Brewers manager Ned Yost said. “He was throwing a real heavy sinker today, just pouring in on the hands of the right-handers, and a nasty slider. He was definitely on.”
Sammy Sosa, Eric Karros and Ramon Martinez also drove in runs for the Cubs, who are trying to make up ground in the NL Central after dropping two straight in St. Louis. Houston and St. Louis, which lead Chicago by 1 1/2 games, played later Friday.
“This was one of those days that I left the bullpen and just felt mediocre,” Clement said. “I don’t know what the word is, kind of blah, I guess.”
He got a boost in the first when Bill Hall was thrown out trying to go to third with only one out. Sexson then grounded out, and Clement was in control.
“By the end of the game, I felt great,” he said. “The biggest plays of the game were that first inning for me.”
After the Brewers scored their first run on Sosa’s error in the fourth, Clement retired his next 10 batters before allowing Helms’ first-pitch homer in the seventh.
It was Milwaukee’s first hit since the fourth inning, and it cut Chicago’s lead to 3-2. But Clement retired all but one of his last nine batters, and Miller’s homer gave him enough of a cushion to seal his fifth career complete game.
“He didn’t really have a great command of his fastball, but he was able to make pitches when he needed to,” Miller said. “It was nice to get a win, especially against (Sheets). He’s a good pitcher.”
Sheets (10-11) had been unbeatable against the Cubs, going 6-0 in his first eight career starts, including 3-0 at Wrigley Field.
But the Cubs were too much for Sheets, who lost his fourth straight decision. He gave up three runs and 11 hits in seven innings, striking out four and walking one.
“I pitched worse than I did today against these guys,” Sheets said. “Itjust didn’t work out for us today.”
Clement needs one victory to match his career high. … Cubs 2B Mark Grudzielanek, on the DL since Aug. 3 with a broken bone in his right hand, began a rehab assignment at Triple-A Iowa. … As expected, the Brewers put OF Geoff Jenkins on the DL. Jenkins is probably out for the season after breakinghis left thumb Thursday.