In their first game under the charge of new manager Dale Sveum, the Brewers proved, somewhat, that Ned Yost wasn't to blame for their losing...even with Yost gone, the Crew still lost, 5-4, but showed every indication that they had not given up just yet.
CC Sabathia got his first loss with the Crew, surrendering 4 ER over 7 IP, and dropping to 15-9, 2.88 on the season. Both clubs notched 11 hits apiece on the evening, and both teams left 4 runners in scoring position with two outs, the Cubs left 2 fewer runners on base...and, most importantly, scored one additional run.
The game started out looking promising after Ryan Braun walked and Prince Fielder doubled after Mike Cameron and Ray Durham had gotten out earlier in the inning--any kind of a hit would have plated a pair of runs, but the struggling J.J. Hardy fanned. The Cubs countered immediately with Alfonso Soriano and Derrek Lee doubles to take a 1-0 lead.
Things took a turn for the worse in the 3rd--after Cubs' pitcher Ryan Dempster struck out the side, the Cubs plated two more on Ryan Theriot, Lee, and Aramis Ramirez all got hits off Sabathia.
The 6th inning proved interesting and fruitful for the Crew...after first base coach Ed Sedar got ejected, the Crew caught fire, as Durham doubled and Fielder homered two batters later to bring the Brewers to within a run at 3-2; Fielder countered a Cub run in the 7th with a solo shot in the top of the 8th, his 32nd of the year, to, again, bring the Crew within a run, 4-3. But the Cubs plated the eventual winning run in the 8th after Ramirez started the inning doubling off Carlos Villanueva, and eventually scoring on a Henry Blanco RBI single off of Brian Shouse.
The Brewers, however, did not give up. After the Cubs' sent their closer, Kerry Wood, out to finish the game, the Brewers mounted a comeback--after Jason Kendall flew out to right, pinch hitter Mike Lamb singled, and was replaced by Alcides Escobar at first. After Cameron fanned, Durham doubled in Escobar to bring the Crew within a run. Braun singled, advancing Durham to third. The stage was set for Fielder...but after running up 8 pitches from Wood, he watched a nasty 3-2 breaking ball drop in for a called third strike.
Thanks to a win by the Phillies and a loss by the Mets, the Brewers are just 1/2 behind the Mets for the NL Wild Card (instead of a full game behind the Phillies). The Mets have one more game to play than the Brewers--next Monday...against the Cubs at Shea. The Mets remaining 12 games consist of 2 more against the Nationals in D.C., 3 versus the Braves in Atlanta, then 4 at Shea against the Cubs and 3 against the Marlins, also at Shea. In other words, at least 9 of the last 13 possible games the Cubs play will have a direct impact on who wins the Wild Card--5 more against the Brewers, and 4 more against the Mets; the Cubs also have 3 left against the Cardinals, who may well still be in the hunt when the face the Cubs on Friday...even the make-up game against the Astros could, theoretically, play a role.
The Brewers go for revenge Wednesday evening.