Cubs chip away, but can't catch Crew

Cubs rally but can't catch Crew

MILWAUKEE -- Alan Trammell's win streak is over.

Tony Graffanino, Corey Hart and rookie Ryan Braun each hit solo home runs to power the Milwaukee Brewers to a 7-5 victory Tuesday night and snap the Cubs' winning run at two games.

Cliff Floyd hit an RBI single and a solo homer and Mark DeRosa added a two-run pinch-hit single in the eighth, but it wasn't enough as the Cubs dropped to 7 1/2 games behind the Brewers in the National League Central.

"It's not over yet," Chicago's Alfonso Soriano said. "We have to finish. There's a long way to the finish."

Tuesday was Day 3 of Cubs manager Lou Piniella's four-game suspension, and he watched the game from a suite in the press box at Miller Park. The Cubs now are 2-1 under Trammell, the bench coach and interim manager.

Wednesday is the rubber match of the series and a big day for the Cubs. They have not won a series since taking two out of three against the White Sox, May 18-20.

"Any win we can get, any series, is important, especially against these guys, the division leaders," Chicago infielder Ryan Theriot said. "Yeah, it's a big game [Wednesday]. I feel pretty good about the way we've played the last few games, so going into it tomorrow, it's a big one."

The Cubs did load the bases with one out in the eighth against Derrick Turnbow, who struck out pinch-hitter Matt Murton. But DeRosa came through with his two-run single to make it 7-5. Milwaukee's closer Francisco Cordero came in and struck out Soriano to end the inning, and finished the game for his Major League-leading 22nd save.

"We've been doing that a lot lately," Theriot said of the late scoring surge. "Toward the end of games, we've always been putting together a little rally and scoring some runs. Personally, I feel pretty confident late in the innings that we're going to put something together and put some runs on the board. That's a great trait for a team to have. Last year, it was a trait that we didn't have. This year, it's definitely a positive."

The Cubs faced an uphill climb after falling behind, 5-0. Ted Lilly (5-3) took the loss, his second in a row, and was again tagged for three home runs. He had given up four homers over 64 2/3 innings in 10 starts, but has served up six in his last two games. The Brewers collected six runs on eight hits and one walk over five innings off Lilly, who struck out two.

"Personally, I feel pretty confident late in the innings that we're going to put something together and put some runs on the board. That's a great trait for a team to have."
-- Ryan Theriot

"I gave up three home runs on three different pitches," Lilly said. "None of them were really executed or located well. The curveball that Graffanino hit, I hung it and he took advantage of it. I really haven't been executing pitches like I was earlier. It's kind of at a point where I need to get it together and start giving us a better chance to win."

"Looking back," Trammell said, "the command has not been as good as it has been. He's getting deeper in counts, and going 3-2 and then having to come in with a pitch that probably gets too much of the plate. At this level, these guys are strong and they'll hit them out of the ballpark."

That's what the Brewers were doing. There's nothing wrong with Lilly, except not being able to execute his pitches.

"I feel good physically, I feel good mentally," Lilly said. "I'm just not getting the job done. I'm not having much fun."

The left-hander struggled through a 29-pitch first inning, which included a sacrifice fly by Prince Fielder for his 46th RBI.

Graffanino, a career .421 hitter against Lilly, connected on his second home run with one out in the second, and Hart made it 3-0 one out later with his third homer. Braun added his third homer leading off the fifth, and also hit an RBI single in the seventh.

"I expect myself to be able to compete better and get better results, even if my stuff isn't that great just by changing speeds," Lilly said. "I've watched a lot of guys do it and get people out. I figure regardless of what kind of stuff I'm taking out there, I expect myself to compete better than I did tonight."

The Cubs missed chances. Soriano doubled to lead off the game, but Milwaukee starter Claudio Vargas (4-1) retired nine in a row before Felix Pie singled to open the Chicago fourth. Pie scored two batters later on Floyd's single. The Cubs left the bases loaded that inning.

Pie also tried to get something started in the first when he bunted after Soriano had doubled. Unfortunately, he popped up to the third baseman.

"I like the way he's thinking," Trammell said of the rookie, who tried to bunt a fastball up and away and simply hit it too hard. "He's been a nice addition to the club."

Floyd added his third home run with one out in the sixth to make it 6-2. Michael Barrett singled and scored on Theriot's double to chase Vargas. Theriot made Vargas work in an 11-pitch at-bat.

"It's one of those confidence builders," Theriot said of the at-bat.

The Cubs had been feeling pretty good after wins Sunday against Atlanta and Monday in the series opener against the Brewers.

"When you're playing catch-up, it's a tough go," Trammell said. "It was a little too much to overcome."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.