Chicago at Milwaukee

Scoreboard
Chi. Cubs (96-63)010000000191
Milwaukee (89-71) «01000130x590

Weeks' three-run homer helps surging Brewers take wild-card lead

CBSSports.com wire reports
  •  

MILWAUKEE -- A mop-up reliever and a one-time top prospect who has lost his starting job helped the Milwaukee Brewers gain control their own playoff destiny again.

COMMENTARY
Finally for Brewers, membership might have its privileges
by Scott Miller
What's Your Take?
Tell Scott your opinion!
 
Rickie Weeks hit a three-run homer in the seventh, Seth McClung pitched four scoreless innings in relief and the Brewers rallied to beat the Chicago Cubs 5-1 on Friday night for their fifth straight win and the lead in the NL wild-card race.

"Anybody can win a game for us at any time," said Weeks, who has just 19 at-bats in the last two weeks after being relegated to a bench role. "It's the first time we've been in this atmosphere, I think, a playoff situation like this."

With the Mets losing 6-1 to Florida, Milwaukee leads New York by a game with two to play.

"It's a good feeling when you have destiny in your hands," Brewers interim manager Dale Sveum said. "We don't have to chase anybody, we're not tied, we're not anything. It's in our hands now."

The win eliminated the Astros even though Houston beat Atlanta 5-4.

Weeks has struggled with a .236 average but replaced veteran Ray Durham after the sixth. He drove reliever Chad Gaudin's pitch deep to left field and flipped his bat as his shot cleared the wall to score McClung and Mike Cameron.

"The good thing about Rickie is he's probably the most strong-minded guy you'll ever be around," Sveum said.

Corey Hart added a two-out run-scoring single in the sixth and Jason Kendall a two-out RBI double in the second to put the Brewers back on top of a race they seemed likely to win at the start of September, when they led the wild-card race by 5½ games.

But Milwaukee dropped 15 of 19 to begin the regular season's final month. Manager Ned Yost was fired and replaced with Sveum, leaving the Brewers in a desperate scramble to reach the postseason for the first time since 1982.

"It was like being in detention for a month, then your first day out for recess, just getting out there and having fun again and playing the game where it's fun," McClung said. "We're having fun right now."

Now Milwaukee is a win away from at least a spot in a play-in game, but the Brewers would have to go on the road in every tiebreaker scenario and would rather just keep beating the Cubs.

They did on Friday night with McClung's stellar work out of the bullpen.

"If you had to say a guy at the beginning of the year that you didn't expect, you could almost make him our MVP, especially if we get into the playoffs," Sveum said. "He's done everything we've asked of him, and he's done an awesome job."

With the game tied at 1 in the sixth, Cubs reliever Sean Marshall (3-5) allowed a leadoff double to Durham and walked Ryan Braun before striking out Prince Fielder. Jeff Samardzija came in and got J.J. Hardy to pop up for the second out, but Hart flared a go-ahead RBI single to left, his second of the game after coming in hitting .172 in September.

In the seventh, backup catcher Koyie Hill was called for catcher's interference during McClung's at-bat. McClung reached second on a balk and moved to third on Cameron's single before Weeks' shot off Gaudin made it 5-1.

"We've been trying to get Gaudin ready for the postseason and that's not coming along very well," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said.

The Brewers got yet another victory despite a shaky starting rotation that's held up to every move Sveum's made. The next risk comes Saturday, when All-Star Ben Sheets (sore elbow) starts for the first time since Sept. 17.

Brewers starter Jeff Suppan, 0-3 with a 10.47 ERA in his first four September starts, allowed eight hits and a walk over five innings. McClung (6-6) did the rest, striking out six and retiring 10 of the final 11 Cubs.

"Dale said that we were going to go out there and play with kind of a football mentality as far as showing your emotions," McClung said. "That just fits me perfect."

Suppan's lone mistake was a belt-high pitch to Jim Edmonds in the second that Edmonds launched in the Brewers' bullpen to give the Cubs a 1-0 lead. But Kendall tied it in the bottom of the second with his RBI double, scoring Hart.

Dempster, who'll start Game 1 of the National League Division Series, threw five innings in his final tuneup before the postseason. He allowed four hits and a walk while striking out four over 80 pitches before being replaced by Marshall.

"I felt really good, prepared physically and mentally," Dempster said. "I did what I needed to do, and now I have another start five days from now. I will be ready for that one, it'll be exciting."

Piniella said Carlos Zambrano, Rich Harden and Ted Lilly would start following Dempster in the playoffs.

After Sheets, Milwaukee will send CC Sabathia (10-2, 1.78) to the mound on short rest for the third consecutive time on Sunday if it's necessary to secure a postseason berth.

Notes

  • The Cubs are under no pressure in this final three-game series, having locked up homefield advantage in the NL. They still played their starting lineup except Mark DeRosa, sidelined with a strained calf.
  • DeRosa said he hopes to play on Sunday, but won't jeopardize the postseason to do it.
  • Sveum said Durham came out due to a tight hamstring that's been bothering him.
  • Cubs C Geovany Soto left in the sixth inning after reaggravating his sore left hand, but said it's nothing to worry about.
  • Brewers owner Mark Attanasio said general manager Doug Melvin would make the decision whether to retain Sveum for the 2009 season.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
Seth McClung strikes out six in four scoreless innings as the Brewers take a one-game wild-card lead.  (AP)
Seth McClung strikes out six in four scoreless innings as the Brewers take a one-game wild-card lead. (AP)

Players of the Game
Milwaukee

R. Weeks
AB 1
R 1
H 1
HR 1
RBI 3
Chicago

J. Edmonds
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 1
RBI 1
 

Related Video

December 23, 2014
Jim Rome: Dez Bryant's contract (3:09)
December 23, 2014
Hammerin' Hank's picks: Week 17
(6:54)
December 23, 2014
Bengals at Steelers Preview
(2:47)
December 23, 2014
Raiders at Broncos Preview
(2:57)
Chicago Cubs
Alfonso Soriano, LF4000023 .282
Mike Fontenot, 2B4030010 .303
Derrek Lee, 1B4010011 .292
Aramis Ramirez, 3B4000024 .287
Micah Hoffpauir, RF4010024 .379
Geovany Soto, C1000100 .285
   a- Koyie Hill, PH-C1000010 .105
   b- Felix Pie, PH1000010 .241
Jim Edmonds, CF4121001 .235
Ryan Theriot, SS3020100 .304
Ryan Dempster, P1000002 .164
    Sean Marshall, P0000000 .333
    Jeff Samardzija, P0000000 .000
   c- Kosuke Fukudome, PH1000000 .258
    Chad Gaudin, P0000000 .000
    Carlos Marmol, P0000000 .000
    Michael Wuertz, P0000000 .000
   d- Daryle Ward, PH1000011 .214
Totals33191211  
a-struck out for Soto in the 6th
b-struck out for Hill in the 9th
c-grounded out for Samardzija in the 7th
d-struck out for Wuertz in the 9th
Batting
HR - Jim Edmonds (20, Suppan)
SH - Ryan Dempster (19)
RBI - Jim Edmonds (55)
CS - Jim Edmonds (2, 2nd base by McClung/Kendall)
Team LOB - 8
Fielding
DP - Lee-Theriot
E - Koyie Hill (1, Interference)
Chicago Cubs
Ryan Dempster 5411140 2.96
Sean Marshall (L,3-5) 0.1111110 3.74
Jeff Samardzija 0.2100000 2.28
Chad Gaudin 0.2332101 4.45
Carlos Marmol 0.1000000 2.71
Michael Wuertz 1000120 3.74
Pitches-Strikes - Ryan Dempster 80-49, Sean Marshall 11-7, Jeff Samardzija 11-7, Chad Gaudin 19-10, Carlos Marmol 4-4, Michael Wuertz 19-11
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Ryan Dempster 2-8, Jeff Samardzija 1-1, Chad Gaudin 1-0, Carlos Marmol 1-0
Batters Faced - Ryan Dempster 19, Sean Marshall 3, Jeff Samardzija 3, Chad Gaudin 6, Carlos Marmol 1, Michael Wuertz 4
Milwaukee Brewers
Mike Cameron, CF3110110 .240
Ray Durham, 2B3120001 .290
    Rickie Weeks, 2B1113000 .236
Ryan Braun, LF2000201 .285
Prince Fielder, 1B4010013 .275
J.J. Hardy, SS4010003 .285
Corey Hart, RF4121021 .271
Craig Counsell, 3B3000114 .224
Jason Kendall, C4011001 .250
Jeff Suppan, P1000011 .140
   a- Russell Branyan, PH1000000 .250
    Seth McClung, P1100011 .263
Totals3159547  
a-flied out for Suppan in the 5th
Batting
2B - Ray Durham (34, Marshall), Prince Fielder (30, Gaudin), J.J. Hardy (31, Dempster), Jason Kendall (30, Dempster)
HR - Rickie Weeks (14, Gaudin)
RBI - Rickie Weeks 3 (46), Corey Hart (91), Jason Kendall (49)
2-OUT RBI - Corey Hart (37), Jason Kendall (16)
PK - Ryan Braun (3, Gaudin)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Corey Hart 1
Milwaukee Brewers
Jeff Suppan 5811151 4.96
Seth McClung (W,6-6) 4100160 4.02
Pitches-Strikes - Jeff Suppan 91-57, Seth McClung 59-37
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jeff Suppan 2-7, Seth McClung 4-1
Batters Faced - Jeff Suppan 23, Seth McClung 13
Game Information
Attendance - 44084
Game Time - 3:04
Temperature - 75
Umpires - Home - Gary Darling, First Base - Paul Emmel, Second Base - Bill Miller, Third Base - Jerry Meals