Cubs drop tight contest to Brewers in extras

Cubs drop tight contest to Brewers in extras

Cubs drop tight contest to Brewers in extras
MILWAUKEE -- Dale Sveum knows the Brewers' hitters well after spending six years on the team's coaching staff, and Norichika Aoki was the last one he would've picked to beat the Cubs on Thursday.

Aoki hit two home runs, including a walk-off blast leading off the 10th inning, to power the Brewers to a 4-3 come-from-behind victory over the Cubs, who lost for the 13th time in the last 14 games. Chicago has yet to win a road series this season.

"To lose a ballgame because Aoki hit two home runs, that's kind of the way things are going," Sveum said. "You expect [Ryan] Braun or Corey Hart to hit two home runs."

Aoki had one homer this season going into the game, an inside-the-parker on April 20 against the Rockies. He led off the fourth with his second -- which also was the Brewers' first hit off starter Matt Garza -- and connected on an 0-2 pitch from Casey Coleman (0-1) for the game-winner.

"The only home run I've had so far was an inside-the-park home run," Aoki said through translator Kosuke Inaji, "so I still can't believe that I was able to hit two today."

Neither could Coleman, who thought his second pitch to Aoki might have been a strike. And pitching with a 1-1 count is different from being behind 2-0.

"It changes the at-bat a little, but it was a close pitch," Coleman said. "Still, 2-0 to a guy like that, you have to make a good, aggressive pitch. I wanted to make a good, aggressive fastball down in the zone. It got up, and he had been locked in today and the series, and when you leave one up to a professional hitter like that, especially in a tight situation, they're going to make you pay, and that's what happened.

"I'd take the same approach if I faced that guy again, just hopefully better execution next time."

Garza, on the other hand, would alter his game plan.

"[Aoki] got backspin on it," Garza said of the laser shot to right in the fourth. "I thought I made a good pitch. He put a good swing on it. You just tip your cap. He had one [heck] of a game. It was his day."

Bryan LaHair gave the Cubs a one-run lead with a two-run pinch-hit homer with two outs in the eighth. LaHair, who did not start against lefty Randy Wolf, connected off Francisco Rodriguez for his 12th blast, driving in Alfonso Soriano, who had singled with two outs.

LaHair was sitting on a changeup because that's what Rodriguez has thrown to him before -- not just in the big leagues but in the Venezuelan Winter Leagues as well. LaHair started prepping in the middle of the game in anticipation of an at-bat.

"I go over in my head what the situation might be as the game progresses," LaHair said. "It was a one-run game, so I knew I was going to hit for sure at some point. I was just trying to stay ready and do what I could to help us win."

But it wasn't quite enough, as Aoki singled off James Russell in the bottom of the eighth and scored two outs later on Hart's double off Manuel Corpas.

Garza remains winless in his last six starts. He hasn't gotten much help, as the Cubs have scored three runs or fewer in nine of 11 starts while he's been in the game. Against the Brewers, he gave up three hits over six innings, striking out six.

"It's the same old story, for the most part -- we get great starts from our starters, and they're going six or seven [innings] and giving up one or two [runs] and coming away with a loss consistently," Sveum said.

"You just keep going," Garza said. "There's another one tomorrow. You just keep going, keep getting ready and keep playing. We knew coming in this would be tough."

But not this puzzling. Wolf entered the game with a 6.05 ERA, and the Cubs totaled four hits off the lefty over 6 2/3 innings. They now have the lowest batting average in the National League against southpaws.

"We had one swing of the bat today, which got us a couple," Sveum said, referring to LaHair's blast. "Other than that, we didn't put anything together against Wolf. A guy coming in with a 6.00 earned run average and us not doing anything is frustrating again."

"It's not fun to lose," LaHair said, "and we're losing a lot. We work so hard. At the end of the day, if you're going to lose, at least you can look yourself in the mirror and say, 'Did I give it my all today?' and I really feel like everybody in this clubhouse is doing that. If we keep doing that, just the way it keeps going, I think this clubhouse will click."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.