Cubs 3, Brewers 1
The Brewers, who have lost nine of 12 since the All-Star Break, were 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position. In their last seven games, six of them losses, they have just three hits in 55 at-bats with runners on second or third for an .054 average.
Even their run Monday night came on a sacrifice fly and not a hit.
Clement (8-9) gave up one run on four hits in six innings to snap a career-worst five-game losing streak. Although he walked four, hit a batter and threw a wild pitch, he stranded seven, allowing only Gary Bennett’s sacrifice fly in the fourth that gave Milwaukee a 1-0 lead.
“It’s nice to finally get a win,” Clement said. “This situation is one that really tests your faith. It’s been rough. I’ve always had faith in what I’ve been doing. It could have turned into something negative, but I never let it.
“My teammates kept me going,” Clement added. “It was nice to leave the game down 1-0 and still get a win. It’s been a long time.”
Victor Santos (9-5) stifled the Cubs until the seventh, when Derrek Lee led off with his 19th homer and Aramis Ramirez followed with a 400-foot double to center. After Michael Barrett flied out, pinch-runner Ramon Martinez took third on Alex Gonzalez’s flyout to center, and Tom Goodwin pinch-hit for Clement.
Santos walked Goodwin on a full-count pitch that could have gone either way, then threw two chin-high fastballs that had Grudzielanek spinning out of the way.
Goodwin stole second without a throw, and Grudzielanek sent a grounder up the middle for a two-run single and a 3-1 Cubs lead.
“I’m starting to see the ball better,” Grudzielanek said. “Anytime a hitter gets going, he starts to hit strikes. This was a huge game for me.”
And for Clement.
During his losing streak, which spanned seven starts and matched a career-high reached two other times, Clement allowed just 15 earned runs while receiving just 11 runs in support.
“It was nice to finally get a win for Matt,” Grudzielanek said. “He’s been pitching great all year, but we haven’t been getting him enough runs.”
Said Cubs manager Dusty Baker: “We were just hoping and praying that we could get Matty a win. It’s been hard on him. That’s one reason his pitch count has been up, he’s been trying so hard because he knows if he gives up one or two runs he could be in trouble.”
The Brewers know the feeling.
Santos lost 1-0 at St. Louis in his previous start when he gave up just one unearned run in six innings.
Brewers manager Ned Yost is trying to stay optimistic: He said his team’s punchless offense might actually work to his pitchers’ advantage by forcing them to focus better with such little margin for error.
“We’re going to start hitting,” Santos said. “It’s just a matter of time. It could be tomorrow.”
It’s been that kind of stretch for the Brewers (48-50), who matched their season low by falling two games below .500 with their 16th loss in 23 games.
Yost has no explanation for their inability to hit with runners in scoring position.
“No. I’m sorry. I wish I did,” he said. “The end can come tomorrow. That’s the great thing about this game. You come out and all of a sudden you get hot.”
Ramirez got caught in a rundown in the fifth when he took off from third base on Alex Gonzalez’s grounder to third baseman Wes Helms. … The Brewers acquired Russell Branyon from Cleveland for cash Monday and designated OF Chris Magruder for assignment. … In the second, Moises Alou swiped a bag without drawing a throw because he was halfway to second base before Santos released the ball. … Brewers CF Scott Podsednik stole his NL-leading 40th base.