Brewers 4, Cubs 2

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MILWAUKEE (AP)—The Milwaukee Brewers guaranteed themselves a winning record at the All-Star break for the first time in six seasons with a 4-2 victory over Mark Prior and the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday night.

Just as they did the day before, when they managed just three hits in a 1-0 win over Chicago, the Brewers were as efficient as they were effective, making the most of their four hits.

Keith Ginter hit a two-run homer after a costly error by Brendan Harris in his major league debut and Victor Santos outpitched Prior to win for the sixth time in seven starts.

Santos (8-3) allowed two runs on five hits in 6 2-3 innings as the Brewers hit the season’s halfway point at 43-38, their first winning record at the 81-game mark since 1998.

“It’s a positive sign and you hope you can build on that,” said general manager Doug Melvin, whose team is trying to end a skid of 11 straight losing seasons. “You never know what can happen with injuries and all, but our goal was a .500 season. I would like to think we’ve raised the bar to be better.”

Milwaukee manager Ned Yost said the milestone showed the Brewers were making progress.

“It’s nice, but we’ve got a long way to go and we want to be like that at the end of the year,” Yost said. “We’re on the right track.”

Harris fielded Craig Counsell’s bunt and overthrew first base, allowing Scott Podsednik to score from second. Harris made nice plays on the next two hitters, chasing down Geoff Jenkins’ foul popup and making a diving stab to rob Lyle Overbay of a hit.

But Ben Grieve’s RBI double and Ginter’s two-run homer off Prior (2-2) increased the damage of Harris’s fielding blunder and gave Milwaukee a 4-0 lead.

“It didn’t start very well, just right off the bat throwing that one away,” Harris said.

Prior’s ERA rose to 4.00. Had the runs been unearned, it would have been exactly 3.00.

After Ginter’s homer, his ninth, Prior struck out eight of the next 13 batters before being lifted for a pinch-hitter leading off the fifth.

“That first inning cost him about 30 pitches or so,” Cubs manager Dusty Baker said.

Following the game, the official scorer changed Counsell’s bunt to a single instead of a sacrifice, meaning all four runs off Prior were earned instead of unearned.

“We just made a couple of miscues that sort of opened the gates for them,” Baker said. “They just kept scoring and that was a big two-run homer that Ginter hit.”

Prior didn’t blame the rookie for the loss.

“I didn’t make pitches in the first inning,” Prior said. “I tried to get out of the situation and just didn’t execute when I needed to.”

In the first two games of their four-game series, the Cubs have allowed just seven hits—just two after the first inning—but lost both times.

Harris helped undo some of the damage his fielding error caused when he followed an RBI double by Ramon Martinez with his own run-scoring double in the third, sending a 1-2 pitch into the gap in right to make it 4-2.

Santos got Moises Alou to foul out to the catcher to end the inning and strand two runners. Corey Patterson led off the next inning with a triple for the Cubs but was stranded there.

Luis Vizcaino pitched the eighth and Dan Kolb pitched the ninth for his 26th save in 27 chances. Derrek Lee reached on a two-base throwing error by third baseman Wes Helms and took third on Jose Macias’ two-out infield single againstKolb before Mark Grudzielanek grounded to third to end the game.

Notes

Ginter has three career homers off Prior, tied with Albert Pujols for most by an active player off the Cubs’ right-hander. … Cubs RHP Kerry Wood allowed two hits and struck out four batters in a rehabilitation start at Triple-A Iowa. Wood threw just 59 pitches—43 strikes—over five shutout innings. He’s scheduled to pitch against the Cardinals this weekend. … Brewers 2B Junior Spivey will miss up to a month after popping his left shoulder out of socket on a headfirst slide into first base Friday night in Pittsburgh. The Brewers had feared he’d need season-ending surgery. … Cubs 3B Aramis Ramirez, who strained his left groin Friday, said he hopes to return toaction at St. Louis this weekend.

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