MILWAUKEE (AP) — Ryan Braun doubled in a run, former Cubs prospect Casey McGehee added a two-run triple and the Brewers bullpen tossed four scoreless innings to lift Milwaukee to a 3-2 win over the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday night.
Aramis Ramirez hit a two-run homer for the Cubs, who saw their season-best three-game winning streak snapped.
Milwaukee came into play a half-game back of St. Louis and Pittsburgh for first place in the NL Central and have thrived at home — where they’ll play their next nine games during a stretch of 18 straight against division opponents.
Chris Narveson (7-6) went five innings but needed reliever Kameron Loe to bail him out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth. John Axford tied a franchise mark with his 25th consecutive save.
The Brewers bullpen of Loe, LaTroy Hawkins, Francisco Rodriguez and Axford each pitched an inning and allowed just two baserunners as a group in the Brewers first game back at Miller Park, where they’re 34-14 this year following a 5-6 road trip against NL West foes.
Rodriguez struck out two in his home debut in the eighth inning after being acquired the night of the All-Star game from the Mets for two players to be named.
Axford matched Doug Jones’ 1997 franchise record of 25 consecutive saves after working around a two-out hit by Kosuke Fukudome in the ninth. Pinch runner Tony Campana stole second before the second-year closer struck out Blake DeWitt to end it. Axford has converted 52 of 57 opportunities since taking the closer’s role from Trevor Hoffman last year.
Cubs starter Ryan Dempster (7-8) continued his string of sharp outings against Milwaukee with seven strikeouts over six innings, but took a rare loss to the Brewers. Since joining Chicago’s rotation in 2008, Dempster is 11-2 with a 2.80 ERA against the Brewers.
His only problem came in the first after being staked a 2-0 lead from Ramirez’s shot. Corey Hart led off with a double and scored on Braun’s double with an out. Prince Fielder followed with a single to put runners on the corners. With two outs, McGehee hit a sharp liner to the right-field wall to give Milwaukee a 3-2 lead.
That would be all that Narveson and the Brewers bullpen would need, even though the Cubs had several chances. Chicago put runners in scoring position in the second, fifth, sixth and ninth innings, but finished 0 for 6 in those situations at the plate.
In the sixth, Narveson left without getting an out when Geovany Soto singled, Marlon Byrd doubled and Carlos Pena walked, but Loe helped Narveson escape the jam thanks to two plays by McGehee at third.
First, McGehee threw out Soto at home off Alfonso Soriano’s sharp grounder, and then started a rally-killing double play when Darwin Barney bounced another ball to the third baseman that the Cubs put on waivers in 2008.
McGehee never had a chance to get serious playing time in Chicago behind Ramirez, who continued his torrid pace. Ramirez has hit 14 homers and driven in 29 runs over his last 29 games, but no one else chipped in for the Cubs again.
NOTES: Dempster caught a sharp liner from Braun to end the fifth that would’ve hit him in the head if it wasn’t for the pitcher’s quick reaction. … Brewers CF Carlos Gomez (broken collarbone) was in the locker room following his surgery on Monday and showing off X-rays of the injury he sustained Wednesday in a win at Arizona. Gomez had a plate inserted to help the injury heal. The club hopes he can return sometime in September. … Cubs reliever Kerry Wood (sick) did not make the trip to Milwaukee for the first of this 10-game, three-city road trip.
(TM and © Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)