CHICAGO (AP) - The Chicago Cubs insist a longer streak is coming, that they will eventually win more than two in a row. The Milwaukee Brewers weren't about to let it happen, though.
Instead, they hit Carlos Zambrano hard and beat the Cubs 9-5 on Wednesday night to take sole possession of the NL Central lead.
``We know we have a good team,' Zambrano said. ``We know we can do a lot of damage.'
Rickie Weeks homered and doubled twice as the Brewers moved one game ahead of St. Louis in the division on a night when heavy rain delayed the start by 1 hour, 42 minutes. Weeks gave the Brewers the kick at the top of the order and the rest of the lineup followed his lead.
``Just trying to get some points on the board,' he said. ``It feels good to get some hits and help the pitchers out.'
Ryan Braun doubled twice, singled and scored three runs for the Brewers. Corey Hart also had three hits. Hart, Casey McGehee, Yuniesky Betancourt and Jonathan Lucroy all drove in two runs.
After wasting terrific starts by Randy Wolf and Yovani Gallardo while losing the first two games of this series by one run, Milwaukee overcame a shaky effort by Chris Narveson (4-4).
The Brewers stopped a two-game losing streak, their longest since they ended a seven-game slide in early May. They had gone a team-record 35 games without consecutive losses before this mini-skid.
In the process, they jumped from a fifth-place tie to the top of the division and were coming off an impressive weekend sweep of the Cardinals. Now, they will try to salvage a four-game split against a team that had dropped 11 of 13 before taking the first two.
Narveson lasted just 5 1-3 innings, giving up a solo homer to Jeff Baker in the first and a three-run drive to Reed Johnson in the fifth. He was nowhere near as impressive as he was on Friday, when he threw eight scoreless innings against St. Louis but he got the win, anyway.
The Cubs still haven't won more than two straight, and they came up short again with a chance finally to get to three in a row. They insist they are capable, that they will go on a run at some point.
``We're always giving ourselves a chance,' Johnson said.
Zambrano (5-4) simply didn't have it and fell to 1-3 in his last eight starts. Big Z got tagged for five runs and nine hits in six innings, before the returning Alfonso Soriano batted for him in the sixth.
``I was trying to be too perfect today,' Zambrano said. ``The first inning, I was throwing good and struck out Prince with two on, and (struck out) Casey. I don't know. We lost the game today. It's bad.'
The Brewers staked Narveson to a 5-1 lead by scoring two in the fourth and three with two out in the fifth. A two-run double by McGehee and Hart's double off third baseman Aramis Ramirez's glove made it a four-run game, but the Cubs got nearly all of it back in the bottom half.
Narveson started it by walking Zambrano and Starlin Castro. Johnson then made it a one-run game when he homered to the last row of the bleachers in left field, a fan reaching up and catching the ball using his cap. But that's as close as Chicago got.
Betancourt made it a three-run game with a two-run bases-loaded single off Chris Carpenter in the seventh, and Weeks increased it to 8-4 with a solo homer off John Grabow in the eighth.
``It was really good offensive production, two-out hits,' manager Ron Roenicke said.
NOTES: The Cubs activated Soriano and placed 2B Darwin Barney on the 15-day DL because of a sprained left knee. The team leader with 12 home runs, Soriano had been sidelined since May 30 because of a strained left quad. He struck out batting for Zambrano and left the game. Barney injured his knee while sliding during Monday's game against Milwaukee. ... The Brewers outrighted C Wil Nieves to Triple-A Nashville and purchased C George Kottaras' contract from the minor league club before the game. Afterward, they optioned LHP Zach Braddock to Nashville and called up Daniel Herrera, who will join them Thursday.
The Associated Press News Service
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