CHICAGO -- Gabe Gross got the bunt down and hustled to first. Halfway there, he saw the Brewers' fortunes change in a hurry.
Ryan Dempster's costly throwing error on Gross' bunt opened the doors for Milwaukee's four-run ninth in an 8-5 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday night.
"Luck finds you every once in a while, I guess," Gross said.
The Brewers went into the top of the ninth with just two wins in 36 games when trailing after the eighth. The Cubs were gracious hosts, committing two errors in the final inning to earn their fifth straight loss. All four runs were unearned.
The Cubs have lost nine straight at Wrigley Field, and 12 of 14 overall to fall a season-high 20 games under .500.
"This is rock bottom," Dempster said. "I guess we hit it. It seems like we've been saying that forever."
Dempster entered the ninth with a 5-4 lead. Corey Koskie ricocheted a hit off of Dempster and Damian Miller walked with no outs. Dempster then fielded Gross' sacrifice bunt and tried to get the lead runner at third. His throw sailed into left field, allowing Koskie to score to tie it.
Corey Hart then hit a hard grounder through Ronny Cedeno's legs at shortstop and Miller came around to score. Rickie Weeks hit a sacrifice fly and Bill Hall singled before Dempster (1-4) was taken out of the game. He has converted just four of his last eight save opportunities.
"Tonight was as bad as I've ever felt for the guys on the team," Dempster said. "There's no one else on the team that can take any of the blame but me. I've never in my entire career thrown that ball away. It really breaks my heart."
Geoff Jenkins' sacrifice fly off Scott Eyre scored Hart to make it 8-5.
Derrick Turnbow pitched the ninth for his 22nd save in 26 chances.
"We played good defense all night long and we took advantage of opportunities when they were presented to us," Brewers manager Ned Yost said.
Gross singled, laid down two sacrifice bunts and scored three runs, the first coming after another Cubs' mistake.
Milwaukee took a 1-0 lead in third after Cedeno missed a tag on Gross during a rundown between second and third. The Cubs argued the call with third base umpire Jim Joyce, who said Cedeno's chest-high swipe missed Gross, who stayed at third. Gross then scored on Hall's RBI groundout.
"I thought he was out of the baseline, number one," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "Ronny said he tagged him. That was a run that haunted us early."
The Brewers led 3-0 and 4-3 but the Cubs rallied to tie it twice. Todd Walker's pinch-hit RBI single in the eighth gave the Cubs the lead.
Aramis Ramirez hit a solo homer off Jose Capellan to lead off the bottom of the eighth and tie it at 4. Phil Nevin walked and was replaced by Matt Murton. Cedeno moved Murton to second with a sacrifice bunt and Capellan intentionally walked Jacque Jones, who hit an RBI double in the sixth to tie it at 3.
Capellan got Henry Blanco to fly out to center before being replaced by Brian Shouse (1-0). Walker then singled past Koskie at third to drive in Murton.
Carlos Zambrano got a no-decision, giving up four runs and six hits with two walks in eight innings. He struck out eight. He also hit a two-run homer for the Cubs, his second, and singled in the seventh but was stranded at third with one out.
"I think it is not the time to blame anybody or point at anybody," Zambrano said. "This is a time to stay together and support each other."
Carlos Lee hit his 25th homer in the fourth for the Brewers.
Dempster hasn't earned a save since June 10 and his last four appearances before Tuesday were in non-save opportunities. Dempster had given up five earned runs in his previous two appearances and Baker said it might be time for a change at closer.
"I've got to discuss it with (pitching coach) Larry (Rothschild)," Baker said. "We'll talk about it. We might have to do matchups until he gets his stuff back together."
With 1B Derrek Lee back in the lineup, Cubs general manager Jim Hendry reiterated his support for embattled manager Dusty Baker for the second time in two months on Tuesday, saying, "I want to give Dusty every opportunity to manage the club and help get us out of this hole when we get healthier." ... The Cubs optioned INF Tony Womack and RHP David Aardsma to Triple-A Iowa, activating RHP Scott Williamson and recalling catcher Geovany Soto. ... Carlos Lee has hit at least 25 homers in five straight seasons. ... The Brewers have won 600 games since joining the National League in 1998. ... The Cubs' home losing streak is their longest since dropping 12 straight from April 4-May 3, 1994.