CHICAGO -- The Milwaukee Brewers' first division title in 29 years could be just days away. The team is tempering its excitement -- for now.
Shaun Marcum threw eight strong innings and the Brewers moved a step closer to the NL Central championship with a 5-1 win over the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday night."We want to go out and play to hopefully win right away," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "I like to stay on a nice roll. I'm just happy (when) we win."
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Marcum (13-7) allowed five hits and one run and chipped in at the plate by doubling and scoring during Milwaukee's four-run third inning."I think everybody is excited but we're still taking it one game at a time," Marcum said. "We're not looking ahead to see when everything can happen. Just looking to go out tomorrow and try to get another win."Rickie Weeks drove in two runs and Nyjer Morgan reached base three times, stole a base and scored two runs to help the Brewers reach 91 wins for the first time since 1992."We're just staying calm," Morgan said. "It's a nice, easy-going clubhouse. We're just worried about what we can take care of."Milwaukee needs a combination of three wins or Cardinals losses to clinch the division. The Cardinals beat the Mets 11-6 on Tuesday night, meaning the earliest the Brewers can wrap up the Central is Friday, when Milwaukee opens a series against Florida.Chicago's Randy Wells (7-5) allowed six hits and five runs in five innings."The biggest mistake I made was that I kind of got stubborn," Wells said. "Kind of went away from what me and (catcher Geovany Soto) talked about."Marcum threw just 97 pitches, struck out seven and didn't walk a batter during an efficient performance that came on the heels of two poor starts in which he allowed 10 runs in 11 2/3 innings. Marcum has never lost three straight starts."Good command early," Roenicke said. "Pitches were down in the zone. Really, the first inning he came out and was hitting spots right away and down. He gets in trouble when he gets a little bit up. When he's down, he's good."The only damage against Marcum came on Starlin Castro's leadoff homer in the sixth. Castro has reached base in 33 straight games, the longest such streak by a Cubs shortstop since Woody English in 1929. Castro has 336 career hits, surpassing Glenn Beckert's franchise record for hits by a player in his first two seasons (post-1900).The Brewers didn't get a hit off Wells until Marcum's one-out double in the third ignited Milwaukee's big inning. Marcum scored on Corey Hart's double. Morgan singled in Hart, stole second and scored on Ryan Braun's RBI single. Weeks capped the inning by singling home Braun."Real happy with the offense," Roenicke said. "I like to string out those innings where we score in a lot of different innings, but certainly the big inning is huge also."Darwin Barney doubled twice for the Cubs.The day Milwaukee fans have been waiting three decades for may be looming just around the corner, but for the Brewers, there is only tomorrow's game."Obviously we know what's going on," Morgan said. "Like the skipper said, just take each series as it comes, like he's been preaching since spring training."
Cubs 3B Aramis Ramirez left the game after the sixth inning because of a mild strain in his right quad and is listed as day to day. ... Brewers 1B Prince Fielder walked twice and surpassed the 100-walk mark for the third straight season. ... Former Cubs general manager Jim Hendry spent some time on the field before the game chatting with players, coaches and media. Hendry was fired on Aug. 19 after more than 16 years with the organization, including over nine years as the team's GM. His permanent replacement has not been hired though Randy Bush is filling in on an interim basis. ... Cubs special assistant to the general manager Gary Hughes resigned on Tuesday, effective Oct. 31. The scouting guru has been with the organization since 2002 and has spent 44 years in professional baseball, working with a total of nine different franchises. ... Matt Garza will start the Cubs' home finale on Wednesday, his first start since throwing a career-high 124 pitches in a complete-game no decision against Houston on Sept. 16. He'll face Randy Wolf, who is 1-1 with a 1.37 ERA in three starts against Chicago this season.