Wood, Cubs fall to Brewers

Special to the Tribune

Just when you think the Cubs have found the old formula for winning, they invent a new way to lose.

For example, take Wednesday night's 6-3 loss to the Brewers, when the pitcher doubled home the go-ahead run.

Not exactly a new way to lose, really. But then consider that the Brewers, as a team, were hitting .105 with runners in scoring position since the All-Star break and you have …

Well, you have another unusual loss, one that dropped the Cubs 11 games behind the Cardinals and two behind in the chase for the wild-card playoff berth.

In what has become a most unusual season for Kerry Wood, Wednesday's loss had to rank right up there. Think about it, pitcher Nick Capuano took a hanging slider and drove home a runner from second base, something other Brewers had done only three times in their last 58 tries.

"That was a big hit because we haven't picked up those runners at second for a while," Milwaukee manager Ned Yost said. "That was a spark for everybody."

It was enough of a spark for the Brewers to score six runs for only the second time since the All-Star break and to hand the Cubs their sixth defeat in the last 11 games.

"Hitting's fun," Capuano said. "That's the one time when a pitcher feels like an athlete. It's like a fantasy baseball camp."

Capuano was more interested in talking about his hitting, but he defeated the Cubs for the second time in the last 10 days. He also picked Wood off first base.

And so it goes for the Cubs, who had at least half the Miller Park sellout crowd of 41,588 on their side.

Wood (5-4) struck out 10 batters, but allowed more runs (five in six innings) than in any of his previous 10 starts. He also allowed a pair of homers after giving up only six in all his other starts and watched his ERA rise from 2.48 to 2.92.

"Kerry threw the ball great," manager Dusty Baker said. "He made a couple of mistakes and when he made them, [the Brewers] didn't miss."

Wood mostly was pleased with his outing, if not the result.

"I thought I threw the ball pretty well," he said. "It looked like after the third or fourth inning, the ball was coming out of my hand the way it did before [I was disabled]. I felt I had better stuff."

Wood was in trouble from the start, walking leadoff man Scott Podsednik, who scored after Craig Counsell's single on Geoff Jenkins' sacrifice fly.

The Brewers added another run in the second inning on Capuano's double to break a 1-1 tie, then added more in the fourth on Bill Hall's two-run shot over the left-field wall. Ben Grieve's sixth-inning homer gave the Brewers a 5-1 lead.

They increased their lead to 6-2 in the seventh inning, although the run was tainted on a controversial safe call at first base. Podsednik eventually scored the run on Kent Mercker's wild pitch.

And Capuano?

"He was throwing strikes, mixing it up well," Baker said. "It seems like we're not hitting some left-handers very well."

The Cubs are 12-9 against left-handed starters this season, 3-7 on the road. Lefty Capuano pitched 61/3 innings and allowed two runs. On July 18, he went six innings and allowed one run in a game where Wood got a no-decision.

Cubs batters managed only four hits against him, but none between Michael Barrett's two-out homer in the second inning and Derrek Lee's one-out double in the seventh inning. For Barrett, it was his 12th homer, matching a career high.

Lee's hit led to a second Cubs run when Aramis Ramirez knocked him in with a single, finishing Capuano's night. Ramirez was erased in Barrett's double-play grounder off reliever Mike Adams.

And the Cubs had found yet another way to lose.

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