MILWAUKEE (AP) - The Chicago Cubs didn't fret the departure of Kosuke Fukudome. A lack of timely hitting was more of a concern.
Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano each drove in a run, but it wasn't enough as the Cubs lost to the Milwaukee Brewers 4-2 on Thursday.
The 34-year-old Fukudome received the news he was headed to Cleveland shortly before the game. Cubs manager Mike Quade said the trade definitely was not a distraction.
``The focus part I never worry about,' he said. ``I'm so pleased with the bullpen work and gotten some quality starts. When that's happening, then it quickly turns to being about better offensively.'
The Cubs were swept in Milwaukee for the first time since May 2005, managing just four runs in the three-game series.
Chicago's pitching shut down the Brewers' potent offense, limiting them to nine runs.
``As good as the pitching is, we still need to put more runs on the board,' Quade said. ``You always feel like when you got pitching, you got a chance.'
Randy Wells (2-4) took the loss for the Cubs, giving up all four runs on eight hits.
Quade said Braun was the main reason for Wells' troubles.
``Wells wasn't too bad, (but) he struggled to figure out Braun,' Quade said. ``That was his nemesis all day.'
One day after losing All-Star second baseman Rickie Weeks to a severe ankle sprain, fellow All-Star Ryan Braun had three hits, including a home run, to lead the Brewers.
Braun had a nagging calf injury in the days before the All-Star game and missed playing in the game in Phoenix, but since he came back he's heated up with five homers in 12 games.
``I feel good,' he said. ``I'm swinging better. I feel like my approaches have been good and I've been swinging at strikes. When I do that, the results are usually pretty good.'
The Cubs took three of four from Milwaukee at Wrigley Field June 13-16 by pounding out 23 runs.
``They are still a quality team and they've always played well against us at home,' Braun said.
Braun said the entire team needs to step up with Weeks out for between two and six weeks. The Brewers put Weeks on the 15-day disabled list before the game.
``Whenever you lose someone like Rickie, you can't replace him with one player,' he said. ``Collectively, we all have to play better. It is not something we wanted to happen, but it did and we have to move on and hope he gets back quickly.'
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said Braun has looked fully recovered in recent games.
``He's really swinging the bat well now,' he said.
Shaun Marcum (10-3) pitched six innings to win his third straight for the Brewers, giving up two runs on seven hits. LaTroy Hawkins and Francisco Rodriguez each pitched a scoreless inning. John Axford closed out the game to record his 30th save in 32 chances.
Axford, who has now converted a team-record 27 straight save opportunities, saved all three wins against the Cubs.
Marcum struggled in the first inning, giving up one run, in part because of his throwing error on a pickoff attempt. He settled down and only gave up one more run.
``I fell behind early in the counts, but the guys battled back and gave me the lead,' he said. ``Then I was able to get in a groove and pitched pretty well.'
Troy Campana, who started in right field for Fukudome, led off the game by beating out an infield grounder and went to second on a throwing error by Marcum. He then stole third base and scored on Aramis Ramirez's sacrifice fly to give the Cubs a 1-0 lead.
The Brewers came back to grab a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the first inning on Casey McGehee's sacrifice fly and Yuniesky Betancourt's RBI double.
Braun's 21st home run of the season in the third inning gave the Brewers a 3-1 lead.
Milwaukee extended its lead to 4-1 in the fourth inning. After a single by Nyjer Morgan, Braun crushed a pitch from Wells off the center field wall to score Morgan.
Alfonso Soriano's sixth inning RBI double cut the lead to 4-2.
Notes: The Cubs recalled OF Tyler Colvin from Triple-A Iowa to replace Fukudome, who was sent to the Cleveland Indians for two minor-leaguers, OF Abner Abreu and RHP Carlton Smith. Colvin, who pinch hit in the ninth and struck out, will start Friday against the Cardinals in St. Louis. ... The Cubs' first-inning run snapped a 17-inning scoreless streak, dating back to the second inning of Tuesday's game. ... The Cubs have given up a major-league leading 85 first-inning runs. ... The Cubs are 21 games under .500, tying their worst winning percentage this season.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved