Lee, Cubs roll past Brewers
Lee hit his 35th homer and drove in two runs to set a career mark with 109 RBIs, leading Chicago to a 7-2 win over the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday night. The Cubs have won three in a row since suspending Milton Bradley for the season.
“You’re playing a baseball game, and you’re not worried about anything else,” said Lee, who has 10 homers in his last 20 games and leads the majors with 24 since July 1.
Bradley’s replacement on the roster, Tyler Colvin, again made an impact.
This time, it was on defense in center field when he made a leaping catch with one out in the ninth that saved what would’ve been a three-run homer by Ryan Braun.
Braun got credit for a sacrifice fly instead of his 30th homer and was left with his hands on his head in disbelief.
“It’s fun to go back on those balls at the wall,” said Colvin, who joked he was so comfortable playing in his second game that he was able to eat after struggling with nerves on Tuesday night. “I luckily timed it right.”
The Cubs are clicking since Bradley’s banishment by scoring at least six runs per game in the three games since he left after reaching that mark only once in a 3-6 stretch prior to that.
The volatile outfielder signed a $30 million, three-year deal before the season to boost Lee and Aramis Ramirez, but Bradley struggled and was suspended Sunday after criticizing the organization in a newspaper interview.
None of it has affected Lee, who continued his sizzling September. He’s hitting .408 for the month and is 6-of-8 in this series with two home runs and six RBIs, but he said the games don’t have the same affect as last year.
“It’s kind of a bad atmosphere with both teams being out of it,” Lee said. “You think back to last series last year when we were clinched (for the postseason) and they were trying to clinch and the crowd was electric. That’s kind of what you hope for in September.”
Neither team will be returning to the postseason barring an epic collapse, but players on both sides are chasing individual marks.
Brewers slugger Prince Fielder led off the second with his 41st home run to extend his franchise-best RBI mark to 129, keeping him tied with Albert Pujols for the major league lead.
But Milwaukee didn’t give Cubs starter Randy Wells (11-9) any other trouble over six solid innings.
Cubs manager Lou Piniella said he planned to give Wells one more start in the Cubs’ doubleheader against the Pirates next Wednesday.
Chicago will go for the sweep tonight, but can be eliminated from the NL Central race with a loss and a victory by St. Louis over Houston.
For the second straight night, the Cubs’ first four batters reached to start the game.
Ryan Theriot walked, Kosuke Fukudome singled, Lee doubled in a run and Ramirez drove in two more with a single to give Chicago a 3-0 lead off Brewers starter Dave Bush (5-8).
And just like the night before, the Cubs kept tacking on runs in the second.
After Bush walked Colvin to lead off the inning and Wells moved him over on a sacrifice bunt, Theriot walked again and Fukudome hit a ground-rule double to make it 4-0.
Bush allowed both runners to score on a wild pitch over the head of Lee. Theriot came home on the offering to the backstop and catcher Jason Kendall’s throw skipped past Bush at the plate.
With no one backing the play up, Fukudome alertly scored as the ball came to rest halfway between the pitcher’s mound and the plate to put the Cubs ahead 6-0.
Bush walked Lee and was pulled for Chris Smith after
1 1/3 innings, the second-shortest start of his career. He struggled with a small tear in a muscle after being hit by a line drive on June 4, but insists he’s OK.
“I’m sure I’m not hurt. I feel fine. I just couldn’t get things together,” Bush said. “It’s a step in the wrong direction I guess.”
Disappointing effort on my part today. It’s been a difficult season for me.”
-- Brewers pitcher Manny Parra (neck spasms) will start Friday. Parra missed his last two scheduled starts, but is replacing Yovani Gallardo (workload) in the rotation.
-- Piniella said after the game the Cubs plan to pitch Ryan Dempster on Thursday, Carlos Zambrano on Friday, Tom Gorzelanny on Saturday and Ted Lilly on Sunday. Rich Harden will continue to be pushed back.