Cubs used 4-run seventh to overtake Brewers in 5-3 win
CHICAGO (AP)—Jacque Jones’ dog days came earlier this season when he was benched and nearly traded. Now that August is almost over, he’s a starter and playing a big role as the Chicago Cubs make their run for the playoffs.
Jones hit a game-tying two-run double in the seventh and scored the go-ahead run on an error by reliever Scott Linebrink as the Chicago Cubs rallied to beat the Milwaukee Brewers 5-3 on Tuesday night.
The first-place Cubs scored four runs in the seventh to knock Milwaukee into third place in the NL Central, 2 1/2 games back. St. Louis beat Houston 7-0 and is now in second, two games behind.
Jones is sizzling in August, batting .357 during the month. Once booed at Wrigley Field, he’s hearing plenty of cheers now.
“It just didn’t work out. It didn’t happen in the first half. It wasn’t from lack of work or lack of effort. That’s behind me,” Jones said. “In the second half we have a lot of guys doing good things and we’re in the pennant race.”
The three-game series is the final meeting this season between the Brewers, who’d spent 125 days in first this season, and the Cubs, who have been tied for first or in sole possession of the lead since Aug. 17.
“It’s important to win the first game and put yourself in a good position,” Chicago manager Lou Piniella said, adding that Jones “has had some big hits for us and he’s done a nice job in the outfield.”
The slumping Brewers lost for the 11th time in 14 games. And this was a difficult one to take after strong pitching from Jeff Suppan. Milwaukee fell below .500 for the first time since April 9.
“It’s tough for all of us. It just seems like every time we get late into a ball game, maybe we start to press,” said Milwaukee’s J.J. Hardy, who had three hits. “I don’t know what it is.”
Suppan, winless in 12 starts since June 22, was staked to a 3-0 lead and was still ahead 3-1 headed into the bottom of the seventh.
“He (Suppan) had pitched well to that point and we had struggled in the seventh inning with our starters a little bit here lately,” Milwaukee manager Ned Yost said. “I didn’t want to take a chance.”
Jones drove a Linebrink pitch into the alley in right-center field to score both runners and tie the game. After an intentional walk to Daryle Ward and Alfonso Soriano’s fly out, Ryan Theriot hit a high bouncer back to the mound. Linebrink jumped for the ball but it went in and out of his glove for an error as Jones raced home with the go-ahead run.
“The ball just hung up there a bit longer than I thought it would,” Linebrink said. “It was a tricky play. You’re trying to be quick. I probably just rushed it a little too much.”
Derrek Lee followed with an RBI single to left finish Linebrink (4-6) and give the Cubs a 5-3 lead.
Chicago starter Rich Hill (8-7), who struck out the first four batters and five of the first six he faced, allowed seven hits and three runs in seven innings, finishing with nine strikeouts.
Bobby Howry pitched a scoreless eighth and Ryan Dempster pitched a perfect ninth for his 22nd save in 24 chances.
Cubs star Soriano, on the DL since Aug. 6 with a quadriceps injury, came off the disabled list and was back in the Cubs’ lineup but went 0-for-4.
Corey Hart had three RBIs for the Brewers.
Hardy had a leadoff single in the third, went to second on Suppan’s sacrifice, to third on another single by Rickie Weeks and scored on Hart’s sacrifice fly.
Hardy doubled in the fifth and went to third on a grounder before Weeks was hit by Hill’s two-out pitch and stole second. Hart then hit a soft liner to center for a two-run single that gave the Brewers a 3-0 cushion.
Jason Kendall doubled with two outs in the bottom half of the inning and scored when Hill—who earlier in the game had failed to get down a bunt—poked an RBI single to left center.
Cubs manager Lou Piniella celebrated his 64th birthday. …. Milwaukee will bring ace Ben Sheets off the disabled list and start him in Wednesday’s second game. He’s been on the DL since July 16 because of a sprained finger and has experienced blister problems.