Brewers Pick up Pieces, Head to Chicago

Brewers limp to Chicago hoping that CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets can turn their nightmarish September around, but the Cubs will hit Wrigley on a high note for Tuesday's opener.

Inside pitch

Going for broke in their four-game series to catch the Brewers for the National League wild-card lead, the Phillies pitched two starters on short rest.

Despite that tactic, Brewers manager Ned Yost said at the start of the day Sunday that he never considered pitching ace CC Sabathia on short rest to try to stave off the charging Phillies.

"Not really," said Yost, who stuck with regularly scheduled starters Dave Bush and Jeff Suppan. "I look at what Bush and ‘Soup' have done in August. They both went undefeated in August.

"(The Phillies) had to (use starters on short rest) because of the circumstances. They didn't want to. Circumstances warranted they had to do that."

Yost referred to the fact that Philadelphia was four games back at the start of the series. But with veteran Jamie Moyer and right-hander Brett Myers winning games at the start and end of the series on short rest, the Phillies swept the four games to pull even in the wild-card race.

Suppan has not been the same pitcher in September, and his record in three previous start at Citizens Bank Park was 1-2 with a 7.31 ERA (13 runs in 16 innings). He was tagged for six runs in 3 2/3 innings, dropping his record this month to 0-2 with an 8.79 ERA in three outings.

Phillies 7-6, Brewers 3-1

There seems to be no end to the September swoon of the Brewers, who lost both ends of a doubleheader Sunday to get swept in the four-game series by the Phillies. By winning all four games, Philadelphia pulled into a tie for the wild-card lead in the National League.

The Brewers are 3-11 this month and have been outscored 75-38. They were outscored in the four games against Philadelphia, 26-10. They have 12 games remaining to right their ship but six are against the NL Central-leading Chicago Cubs, so the task will not be easy.

Suppan put the Brewers behind early in the nightcap by surrendering six runs in 3 2/3 innings. He was no match for Myers, who pitched a two-hitter on short rest.

Odds and ends

--Right fielder Corey Hart, who has batted fifth most of the season, was moved to the leadoff spot Sunday in the first game as Yost tried to shake Hart and the team out of a prolonged offensive slump. Hart had just one hit in his last 22 at-bats.

--Left fielder Ryan Braun snapped a 0-for-17 skid with a home run Saturday night in the Brewers' 7-3 loss. Braun had not hit a home run in September before connecting on No. 35.

--Left-hander Manny Parra has surrendered 19 hits and 16 runs (10 earned) in 11 1/3 innings in three starts in September (7.94 ERA). Parra has pitched 21 innings more than any previous season but Yost said he did not think Parra was getting tired. "Tired? Look, we're in a pennant race in September. No. It's a nice excuse."

--Catcher Jason Kendall caught both ends of the doubleheader. Kendall has started behind the plate in 137 of the Brewers' 150 games this season.

Chicago Cubs

Inside pitch

Carlos Zambrano said it best. "I guess I'm back. My arm is back, it's good," he said.

It definitely was all good for Zambrano on Sunday night as he tossed the first no-hitter of his career during the Cubs' 5-0 win over the Houston Astros at Milwaukee's Miller Park. The neutral-site game was made necessary by the effects of Hurricane Ike on Houston.

The most impressive thing about Zambrano was that he hadn't pitched since Sept. 2, when he took himself out of his start against the Astros at Wrigley Field because of shoulder problems. But his side work since then was good.

It was so good that Zambrano hit 98 mph in the first inning three times, as recorded by the scoreboard gun, and 99 once.

"I've seen him throw the ball like that, and that's the Zambrano we know," said catcher Geovany Soto.

"I'm a little confused," Zambrano said about his sudden recovery.

It was a huge game for the Cubs, who will need their ace for the playoff run. Manager Lou Piniella has set his rotation for the rest of the season, and Zambrano is scheduled to pitch Game 1 of the National League Division Series, if the Cubs make the playoffs.

Cubs 5, Astros 0

Zambrano tossed the first no-hitter of his career and the first for the Cubs since 1972, when Milt Pappas no-hit the Padres. Zambrano walked one, struck out 10 and hit a batter. He threw 110 pitches, 73 strikes. Left fielder Alfonso Soriano opened the game with his 28th homer, and first baseman Derrek Lee hit a two-run double in the Cubs' four-run third.

Odds and ends

--Zambrano's gem was the ninth no-hitter in Cubs history since 1900. For Zambrano, it was his eighth career complete game and third shutout.

--Righty Chad Gaudin isn't a sure thing to return in the regular season. Gaudin hasn't pitched since Aug. 29 because of lower back soreness, but pitching coach Larry Rothschild said Gaudin is making progress at the team's Arizona facility. Rothschild said Gaudin played long-toss Sunday and that he'll pitch a side session Monday.

--Soriano's blast was his 28th homer overall this season and the fifth time he has led off a game with a homer in 2008. Soriano has 49 lifetime lead-off homers.

--Lefty Ted Lilly was scheduled to start today's makeup game against Houston at Milwaukee. Lilly is going on regular rest, having pitched last Wednesday at St. Louis, when he went eight innings in a 4-3 victory.

--Lefty Sean Marshall likely is in the bullpen for the rest of the year. With the Cubs not having to play a doubleheader in the wake of Hurricane Ike, manager Lou Piniella can go with his five top starters. Marshall is valuable in the bullpen because the Cubs have only one other left-handed reliever, Neal Cotts. Marshall also has the ability to go long if a starter gets injured during a game or gets knocked out early.

By the numbers

30—Kerry Wood notched his 30th save Sept. 11. Wood and fellow righty Ryan Dempster are the only two Cubs pitchers to have 30-start and 30-save seasons.


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