Soto powers Cubs over Brewers
CHICAGO The Milwaukee Brewers are closing in on their first NL Central title. Just don't tell them that.
Chris Narveson struggled with his command and the Brewers were shut down by Casey Coleman in a 5-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Monday night.
Milwaukee's loss and St. Louis' win over Philadelphia kept the Brewers' magic number for clinching the NL Central at four. They are looking for their first division title in 29 years.
"You're still just trying to take it game by game," Narveson said. "Magic numbers don't mean anything until you clinch."
With Milwaukee's loss, the NL East champion Phillies clinched home-field advantage throughout the postseason.
Geovany Soto hit a pair of two-run homers and a run-scoring single to help Chicago snap a six-game losing streak to the Brewers.
Narveson (10-8) was pulled for a pinch hitter in the fifth inning. He allowed three runs — two earned — four hits.
Despite sweeping Cincinnati over the weekend, the Brewers have lost seven of their last 12 games.
"We knew coming into it that we're not going to blow everyone out," said Jonathan Lucroy, who singled and drew a pair of walks. "We're not going to beat everybody. It's just a game. We got beat today. Hopefully we can come tomorrow and get a win."
Soto connected against Narveson in the third and Marco Estrada in the sixth. He also singled in Marlon Byrd in the fourth.
Soto has three career multihomer games, each coming against the Brewers.
"I made a couple mistakes tonight," Narveson said. "I wasn't locating the way I feel I can, and that put me in some bad situations.
"If they were in the same situation, if they had a lead, I know we'd be coming in and give it our all. They're not coming in to roll over, they're going out to play the best game they can."
Coleman (3-8) had a career-high eight strikeouts in six inning, yielding one run and two hits. The right-hander was 0-5 with a 7.98 ERA in his previous 10 appearances.
"He moves the ball around, he locates and drops the ball down sometimes with two strikes," Lucroy said. "He'll move the slider off the plate or throw a fastball at the same arm angle. For me as a righty, I've got to get on him early. If I don't, he'll take advantage of it.
"He's pretty good at getting guys out. He seems to always pitch well against us, too. I know his ERA doesn't reflect that, but he threw well against us tonight."
Coleman entered with a 6.20 ERA in 20 1-3 career innings against the Brewers.
"It's a little puzzling," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "We didn't swing the bat well off of Coleman. I thought he threw really well. His slider was really good. He was down in the zone today.
"I don't know if it was a case of us not hitting or him throwing the ball well, but from what I saw, he threw the ball well."
Jeff Samardzija and Sean Marshall combined for two scoreless innings before the Cubs went to closer Carlos Marmol for the ninth.
Marmol provided some drama by giving up a solo homer to Casey McGehee and allowing consecutive singles to Mark Kotsay and Lucroy. With runners on first and second and one out, Marmol struck out Taylor Green and Corey Hart to end the game.
Jerry Hairston Jr. went deep in the third for his first homer since joining the Brewers on July 30.
The Cubs responded in the bottom half. Carlos Pena led off with a walk and Soto cleared the bleachers in left field for his 16th homer.
It was Narveson's first start since allowing six runs and seven hits in 5 2-3 innings during a 7-2 loss to Philadelphia on Sept. 8.
NOTES: Cubs RHP Randy Wells is Tuesday's scheduled starter. He is 5-0 with a 3.57 ERA in his last nine starts. ... RHP Shaun Marcum is scheduled to start for the Brewers on Tuesday. In his last two starts, Marcum allowed 10 earned runs in 11 2-3 innings.