CHICAGO (AP)—Anxious and antsy before the game, Mike Cameron could finally relax when it was over. The veteran waited for his opportunity and made a big impact once he got it.
The game was delayed 13 minutes before the top of the third, when plate umpire Jerry Crawford went to the hospital because he was feeling ill. They went with a three-man crew the rest of the way.
Cameron, meanwhile, gave a slumping offense a much-needed spark after serving a 25-game suspension for testing positive twice for a banned stimulant while with San Diego. And the Brewers sent the NL Central leaders to their fourth loss in five games.
“I had a little bit of the jitters getting into the (batters) box,” Cameron said.
It certainly did not show.
Cameron was relieved to see his name in the starting lineup, batting second and playing center, after seeing it linked with the word “suspension” in countless articles. He was restless, too. And he immediately unleashed his pent up energy—and frustration.
He doubled high off the wall in left in the first and scored, and added a single and run in the third.
“It was good to get that first one out of the way,” Cameron said. “After that, it kind of goes on cruise control, back to normal and everything. It was real good tonight.”
Bill Hall, Corey Hart and Hardy each had three hits, and the Brewers banged out 17 in all—the most for them since they had 19 against St. Louis on Aug. 14. Hall singled in Hart with two out in the fifth, putting the Brewers ahead for good 5-4. Milwaukee got another run in the sixth when Kendall scored on Ryan Braun’s force out.
That made a winner of Sheets (4-0), who had a question afterward.
“Have you ever seen me walk that many batters or throw that many balls?” he asked.
No one had. The seven he issued over five innings, while striking out two, were a career-high. He allowed four runs and three hits in his first appearance since leaving after five innings against Cincinnati April 18.
“Yeah, I felt rusty,” said Sheets, who missed a scheduled start against Philadelphia because of tightness in his right triceps. “I felt real rusty.”
Eric Gagne pitched a scoreless ninth for his eighth save in 12 chances, but it wasn’t easy. Geovany Soto doubled with one out and Mike Fontenot walked with two out, before Reed Johnson forced the runner at third.
The inning—and the night—were wasted opportunities for the Cubs. They pounded out seven runs and 11 hits on a night when Sheets wasn’t himself, but came up short.
“We swung the bats well,” said Chicago’s Derrek Lee, who tied a club record for home runs in April when he hit his eighth. “They just outhit us.”
Lee joined Sammy Sosa and Lee Walls in the club’s record book when he went deep leading off the third, and the Cubs added another run in the inning to tie it at 4.
But like Sheets, Cubs starter Jason Marquis (1-1) struggled. He allowed five runs and 10 hits in five innings while walking one and striking out two, and the bullpen wasn’t much help. Four relievers combined to allow five runs and seven hits while walking three.
“I didn’t make the pitches when I needed to,” Marquis said. “They jumped on every mistake.”
Sheets’ previous career-high was six walks against Houston on Sept. 3, 2007. … Piniella said Alfonso Soriano (strained right calf) will remain at the top of the order when he returns from the DL on Thursday.