MILWAUKEE (AP) - Ryan Dempster blamed himself for not giving the Cubs a chance to win. Alfonso Soriano put them in position to pull off an unlikely comeback anyway.
Dempster gave up five runs in four innings before Soriano's three-run double in the eighth made things interesting in Chicago's 6-4 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday night.
``I wasn't out there for very long. Just long enough to give up enough runs to lose the game,' Dempster said. ``Giving up a home run in the first inning and putting us down 3-0 against a tough team who is playing as good as anybody in baseball right now and a tough pitcher, you kind of dig yourself a hole.'
Prince Fielder, Casey McGehee and Corey Hart homered for the NL Central-leading Brewers, and Yovani Gallardo matched a season high with 10 strikeouts over seven innings.
``They won because of Gallardo,' Soriano said. ``I think if we get the bullpen before seven innings or six innings, I think we have a better chance, but you have to give a lot of credit to Gallardo. He pitched a very good game tonight.'
Gallardo (15-8) allowed one unearned run and got out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh, before Soriano's three-run double off LaTroy Hawkins.
Hawkins departed for Francisco Rodriguez and Soriano stole third, but Geovany Soto struck out and Reed Johnson grounded out weakly to end the inning.
John Axford pitched the ninth for his 39th save, converting his 36th straight opportunity.
``Hey, we had a shot,' Cubs manager Mike Quade said. ``To come back and have a shot is really all you can ask.'
Dempster (10-10) had been 6-0 with a 1.83 ERA in his previous eight starts against Milwaukee before July 26.
That day, Milwaukee beat him 3-2 at Miller Park to start a streak of 26 wins in the last 31 games that's vaulted the Brewers from third place to their biggest divisional lead ever.
McGehee's two-run homer off Dempster gave Milwaukee a 3-0 lead after the first, and Fielder and Hart helped the Brewers build a 6-1 lead before the Cubs rallied.
Even when something went well - like center fielder Marlon Byrd's catch at the wall in the third - something bad happened next. Fielder followed with his 29th homer in the third off the lower metal scoreboard supports.
The Cubs' best chance against Gallardo came in the seventh after the right-hander walked Blake DeWitt and Starlin Castro to load the bases with two outs. But Gallardo fanned Darwin Barney for his 10th strikeout of the night to set the stage for the rally that fell just short.
``It's very tough, when a team is playing good. They have the momentum right now so they play very good at home and I think everything is going their way,' Soriano said. ``We hit a couple of balls hard and they make very good plays. I hope we have better luck tomorrow.'
NOTES: The Cubs have lost seven straight at Miller Park. ... Cubs 3B Aramis Ramirez extended his hitting streak to 16 games. ... Castro extended his hitting streak to 11 games. He's the first Cub with three hitting streaks of at least 10 games in one season since Sammy Sosa did it in 2000. ... Brewers RHP Zack Greinke (12-5, 4.22 ERA) faces Cubs RHP Casey Coleman (2-6, 7.59) in the finale of this three-game series on Sunday.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved