Injured ace Sheets leaves Brewers' loss to Cubs

Cubs 9, Brewers 3

CHICAGO (AP) -- Cliff Floyd can sleep easy, at least for one night. A stream of losses had left one of the newest Chicago Cubs tossing and turning, unable to get his rest.

"I'm going to sleep like a baby tonight," Floyd said Wednesday after he and Derrek Lee had four hits each to pace a 9-3 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers.

Milwaukee lost ace Ben Sheets to a groin strain in the third inning. The Cubs then stopped a three-game losing streak, using a five-run fourth inning that matched their run output of the previous two games. They are still just 4-9 at Wrigley Field.

"Sometimes it's a little difficult to play at home. The expectations are a little higher," Floyd said. "I told myself to have some fun and get ticked off at the pitcher, not yourself. You know what I mean? It's amazing how things can turn around if you put a little focus, a little anger into some things."

Sheets pitched three scoreless innings before leaving. In the bottom of the third, he reached down to tag out Ryan Theriot at third base but actually got the injury after the final pitch of the inning on a chilly and damp 44-degree day.

"I didn't necessarily feel it on the pitch. It grabbed when I turned to look on that last ground ball," Sheets said. "I don't recall doing anything. I'm sure the elements probably played a part in some of that."

But the first-place Brewers weren't going to take any chances, so Sheets left. In came Elmer Dessens, who gave up five unearned runs.

"It wasn't that it was excruciating, by any means," Sheets said. "There was really no sense in pushing through it and taking that chance right now, especially with the weather the way it was."

Milwaukee's Ned Yost, managing his second game after breaking his collarbone while running near Wrigley Field on Tuesday, said Sheets will be re-evaluated Friday. He wasn't sure whether Sheets will miss his next start.

The Brewers' weary bullpen yielded 12 of Chicago's 16 hits and all nine runs. The Cubs' offense benefited from Sheets' departure.

"Hopefully he's OK now. But it's never fun facing him. He's a great pitcher," said Lee, who hit his first homer since Sept. 11, a fifth-inning drive off Matt Wise.

Lee, batting .393, got the silent treatment from his teammates in the dugout after his first homer came more than three weeks into the season.

"Honestly, I haven't been too worried about it," Lee said. "I feel really good at the plate and like I said, home runs are mostly by accident. And today it just happened to be a higher pitch and got into the air. My home runs are going to come."

Ted Lilly (2-2) allowed two runs -- one earned run -- and six hits in seven innings.

After Dessens (1-1) replaced Sheets, the Cubs scored quickly, helped by an error by shortstop J.J. Hardy, which made all five runs unearned.

"J.J. should definitely make that play. And when you don't, you have to find ways to cover it up. We just didn't cover it," Yost said.

Aramis Ramirez walked and, one out later, Hardy couldn't come up with Jacque Jones' grounder. Mark DeRosa hit an RBI single, Felix Pie blooped a single that loaded the bases and Theriot delivered a two-run single. Floyd followed with a two-run double.

Milwaukee got two back in the fifth on Tony Graffanino's run-scoring single and an RBI grounder by pinch-hitter Tony Gwynn. Michael Barrett added a two-run single for the Cubs in the seventh.

Rickie Weeks homered off Michael Wuertz leading off the eighth. Lee had an RBI double in the bottom of the inning.

Game notes
Johnny Estrada returned after missing a game with a bruised knee, the result of a collision with Prince Fielder on Monday night. ... DeRosa stayed in the game in the seventh after being hit in the right wrist by a pitch from Chris Spurling. ... Lilly's third-inning single to short was his second major-league hit and first since 1999 when he was with Montreal. ... Theriot got the start at short as manager Lou Piniella tried to find a lift for the Cubs' struggling offense. ... Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano was given the day off because of the conditions. He'd returned to the starting lineup Monday after a hamstring strain.