Cubs keep it close, but Brewers pull away late

Cubs keep it close, but Brewers pull away late

Cubs keep it close, but Brewers pull away late
CHICAGO -- Joe Mather did not want his sporadic pitching career to continue, but the outfielder was needed in the ninth inning on Monday. The good news for the Cubs: He threw four pitches, all strikes.

The Cubs called upon Mather to get the final out and end a nine-run ninth inning as the Brewers posted a 15-4 victory. This one was actually closer than the score would indicate.

Aramis Ramirez looked right at home at Wrigley Field, hitting a pair of home runs and a RBI double, and Ryan Braun drove in five runs, including three on his 35th home run, to power Milwaukee.

Rookie Brett Jackson hit his fourth home run of the season, and third in the last four games, but it wasn't nearly enough as the Cubs fell to 3-11 against the Brewers this year.

"Obviously in the ninth, it got out of hand," Braun said, "but it was a really close game and a tightly-contested game up until that point."

The Brewers led, 6-4, going into the ninth against Alex Hinshaw, and sent 13 batters to the plate. Braun, Ramirez and Corey Hart hit consecutive home runs off Hinshaw to take a 10-4 lead. Lendy Castillo took over, but served up four more runs before he was pulled for Mather, the first position player to pitch for the Cubs since Gary Gaetti on July 3, 1999, against the Phillies.

Mather, making his second career relief appearance, gave up a RBI single to pinch-hitter Jeff Bianchi, but got pinch-hitter Martin Maldonado to hit into a force and end the inning.

"Those guys have to pitch when we're losing," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said of the relief corps. "We can't just keep throwing [Shawn] Camp and [Manuel] Corpas and [James] Russell and those guys in the games. Those other guys have to get through those innings. Obviously, we couldn't accomplish that."

Mather last pitched April 17, 2010, while with the Cardinals in a 20-inning game.

"Obviously, it's never what you want to do," Mather said. "I know Dale doesn't want someone to come in and throw like that. It's an unfortunate thing you have to do, and tonight we got out of it pretty quick."

He did throw strikes.

"I think it goes back to your childhood and you want to be competitive," Mather said. "You want to get the team out of the situation it's in and you want to get those guys out. You can't help but want to go out and beat the guy you're facing."

Justin Germano (2-4), making his sixth start for the Cubs, scattered a season-high 10 hits over five-plus innings, and was unable to avenge a loss one week ago to the Brewers.

"It's hard to be perfect, but I have to go out there and minimize the mistakes, at least the hitters that I make them to," Germano said. "I make two of the mistakes to Ramirez, and that's a guy you can't make a mistake to. I thought I was hanging right in there until that homer [in the fifth]. That kind of set the tone for them. You make a better pitch and it could be a completely different ballgame."

The Cubs trailed, 5-3, when Jackson greeted Kameron Loe with a home run to open the sixth. Chicago loaded the bases with two outs and Hart made a great play on Alfonso Soriano's ball to end the inning. The Cubs had another opportunity in the seventh with two on and two outs, but right fielder Norichika Aoki made a nice catch of pinch-hitter Luis Valbuena's liner to end that threat.

"Soriano has a great at-bat with the bases loaded, and hits a missile in the hole and Corey Hart makes a great play," Sveum said. "Valbuena pinch-hits and hits a missile and Aoki makes a great diving catch. Otherwise, we could've broke the game open just as easy right there with a little bit of luck. Then we couldn't get the lead. We have to find a way to hold teams down."

Marco Estrada (2-5) struck out eight over five innings to help the Brewers pad their lead in the Major Leagues in strikeouts. The Cubs have struck out at least 12 times in each of their last four games against Milwaukee, including 15 on Monday. The 15 Ks tie a season high, set June 6 against Milwaukee.

Is this a game Sveum would like to forget?

"I hope so," he said. "I don't want to think about it too much longer. It was long enough."

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.