Narveson helps Brewers keep Cubs down

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CHICAGO (AP)—Lou Piniella was back in the Wrigley Field dugout after missing three games to attend his uncle’s funeral. He felt as if he never had left.

His Cubs went 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position against Chris Narveson(notes) and four Milwaukee relievers Tuesday night, and Chicago fell 4-3 to the Brewers to extend its losing streak to seven games.

“Again, we get people on and we just don’t get them in,” said Piniella, whose Cubs are batting .243 with runners in scoring position despite having the NL’s highest payroll. “That’s been a recurring theme.”

Piniella, who will retire after the season, wasn’t particularly impressed that his team rallied from a 4-1 deficit to make it close.

“It’s good to play hard and be competitive, but moral victories … I think that’s OK for the Little League coach,” he said. “You’ve got to work your way out of this. These other teams, they’re not going to feel sorry for you. They see a team that’s down and they’re going to play to keep them down.”

Thomas Diamond(notes) (0-1) struck out 10 over six innings in his major league debut but couldn’t prevent the Cubs (46-61) from falling 15 games under .500 for the first time since they ended 2006 at 66-96.

Two years later, the Cubs won the NL Central and the Brewers were the league’s wild-card team. Now, both are playing out the string with two-thirds of the schedule remaining.

While Chicago has been outscored 67-20 during its longest losing streak since May 2009, the Brewers have used their trip to Wrigley Field to turn around their fortunes.

After a five-game skid, Milwaukee beat Chicago 18-1 on Monday and came through with another solid performance Tuesday.

Ryan Braun, who had five hits Monday, added three more singles. Prince Fielder(notes) followed his five-hit, five-RBI game with two singles and an RBI. And Casey McGehee(notes), who drove in four runs Monday, had another two RBIs.

“We’ve had a real good approach in this series,” McGehee said.

The Brewers also have received good starting pitching against the Cubs, first from Yovani Gallardo(notes) and then from Narveson.

Narveson (9-7) allowed one run and six hits and escaped numerous jams in his 5 2-3 innings. And he seemed even happier about his RBI single in the fourth, which gave the Brewers a 3-1 lead.

“Helping yourself out at the plate has always been a big competition with the pitchers here,” said Narveson, who is batting .313 with four RBIs in 32 at-bats. “That was huge.”

Diamond, a 27-year-old righty who has spent seven seasons in the minors, became only the second Cub in 90 years of record-keeping to reach double-digit strikeouts in his debut. Mark Prior(notes) struck out 10 against Pittsburgh in 2002.

Called up to replace Carlos Silva(notes), who went on the disabled list with a rapid heartbeat, Diamond gave up three runs on seven hits and three walks. He threw 122 pitches. Piniella said he would start again Sunday.

“The goal this year was to get noticed and to try to get up here,” Diamond said. “Now it’s to try to stay here.”

McGehee’s seventh-inning sacrifice fly made it 4-1. The Cubs scored in their half on pinch-hitter Kosuke Fukudome’s(notes) homer off Todd Coffey(notes).

After giving up two singles to open the Chicago eighth, Kameron Loe(notes) struck out Alfonso Soriano(notes) and Geovany Soto(notes) and got Blake DeWitt(notes) to line out.

Starlin Castro(notes) singled home a ninth-inning run off John Axford(notes) but was thrown out in a rundown after stumbling between first and second. Axford then fanned Derrek Lee(notes) to wrap up his 16th save in 17 chances.

NOTES: Cubs $91.5 million RHP Carlos Zambrano(notes), banished to the bullpen after a June 25 dugout tirade led to a suspension and anger-management counseling, will “get some consideration” to return to the rotation, Piniella said. … Brewers OF Carlos Gomez(notes), hit in the head by a pitch Monday, had a CT scan and “it was fine,” Macha said. But Gomez still might have a concussion, the manager said, so the team will proceed cautiously. … Chicago CF Marlon Byrd(notes) made diving catches to rob McGehee and Alcides Escobar(notes) of hits. “He goes and gets it just as good as anybody,” McGehee said. “He’s like a free safety in football.”

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