Cubs' Estes allows five runs in first two innings


CHICAGO (AP) -- The Milwaukee Brewers didn't waste any time
getting a new winning streak going.

A day after their 10-game run ended, Richie Sexson homered and
drove in four runs and Scott Podsednik stole home to lead the
Brewers to a 9-5 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Saturday.

Milwaukee has won 12 of its last 14 games, improving to 59-76.

"People look at the record we have and I don't know if they
look past us or what," said Matt Kinney, who won his third
straight start. "Our whole thing is we are going to try to win as
many games as possible. And if teams want to look by us, then watch

The Cubs insist they're not overlooking the Brewers -- or anyone
else, for that matter. They began the day a half-game behind St.
Louis and Houston in the NL Central, and with just a month left in
the season, every game is critical.

But Chicago starter Shawn Estes has been struggling, and
Saturday was no different. The Brewers tagged him for five runs in
just two innings, and rolled from there.

Every Milwaukee starter except Wes Helms reached base at least
once in the game and scored a run. Kinney (10-9) allowed four
earned runs and seven hits in 5 1-3 innings, and the Milwaukee
bullpen held the Cubs to just three hits over the final 3 2-3

"I let the team down," Estes said. "We need to win these
games. It's a big time for us, a big time of year, and it's
obviously disappointing."

Pinch-hitter Troy O'Leary hit a three-run homer in the sixth,
but the Cubs couldn't take advantage of their other opportunities,
stranding 10 runners. They left the bases loaded in the seventh,
and Kenny Lofton was thrown out at home when he tried to score from
first on Sammy Sosa's double in the eighth.

It was the third loss in four games for the Cubs.

"All day long, we were having trouble getting that two-out
knock," manager Dusty Baker said. "I felt that was the right
play, especially with Kenny running."

Estes (7-11) has lost four of his last five decisions, and has
worked into the seventh inning just twice in nine starts.

He got in trouble early against the Brewers and Sexson hit his
36th homer of the year in the first, giving Milwaukee a 2-0 lead.

The Cubs got a run back in the bottom half on Sosa's sacrifice
fly, but Estes' outing fell apart in the second inning. After
striking out Helms, he gave up back-to-back singles to Eddie Perez
and Bill Hall. Kinney moved both over with a sacrifice bunt.

Podsednik followed with a blooper into shallow left-center,
scoring Perez and Hall. Podsednik then stole second and went to
third on a wild pitch by Estes.

Ginter drew a walk and, with Brady Clark at the plate, took a
big lead off first. Estes tried to pick him off, but as soon as he
turned his back to third, Podsednik took off.

"As I picked up my leg to throw, I heard him step off," Estes
said. "But at that point, I'm kind of helpless."

Randall Simon's throw home was on target, but a moment too late.
Podsednik slid, and his foot crossed the plate just before Paul
Bako tagged him.

"He's probably a little slower than average going to first,"
Podsednik said of Estes. "It gave me an extra step."

It was the first time a Brewers player has stolen home since
Mark Loretta did it in St. Louis on July 28, 1998. It also was the
first time an opponent has stolen home against the Cubs since Scott
Rolen, then with Philadelphia, did it on June 5, 1997.

Estes finally retired Clark on a groundout to end the inning,
and was greeted with a loud chorus of boos as he trudged back to
the dugout. When Tony Womack was announced as a pinch-hitter in the
bottom of the inning, the Wrigley Field crowd of 39,805 cheered.

"They're going to express disappointment," Estes said. "I
haven't been the best pitcher this year. ... I just happen to be
the guy they're picking on right now, and I just have to deal with

Todd Wellemeyer, recalled from Triple-A Iowa earlier in the day,
relieved and didn't fare much better. Mark Smith hit a solo homer
off of him in the third, and the Brewers scored three runs with two
outs in the fourth.

"We ran into a hot club," Baker said. "We'll get some rest
tonight and come out smoking tomorrow."

Game notes
Sexson's four RBI gave him 100 for the season, the fourth
time in his career he's reached the century mark. ... Estes' outing
was his second-shortest of the year. He lasted an inning against
the White Sox in June, giving up six runs. ... Lofton was 4-for-5.
... Former Marquette star and Chicago native Dwyane Wade threw out
the first pitch and sang "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."