Real marathon men

It took nearly five hours, two sausage races and 17 innings for the Cubs to outlast Milwaukee on Thursday afternoon, but the end result was ultimately worth the wait.

Corey Patterson's two-run 17th-inning home run off Brooks Kieschnick sent the Cubs to a 4-2 victory over the Brewers, extending their winning streak to five games with a four-game sweep at Miller Park.

Patterson dispensed with the clichés afterward and admitted he was going for the downs long after the Cubs wasted a sterling pitching performance by Kerry Wood.

"I did want to try and help get the game over with," Patterson said. "It was a good tired. Guys lose focus out there for 16, 17 innings. You really have to bear down and concentrate. That last at-bat, that's what I was able to do."

The Cubs blew two late leads and watched the Brewers defense rob them repeatedly in extra innings, but somehow managed to survive. Kyle Farnsworth (2-0) earned the victory with three innings of scoreless relief and rookie Todd Wellemeyer notched his first save in his major-league debut, striking out the side in the 17th.

"It didn't look like things were going our way too much," manager Dusty Baker said. "They weren't going our way at all."

Not until Damian Miller singled with two outs in the 17th. Patterson then blasted his eighth homer into the right-field bleachers, his game-winning shot matching Keith Moreland for the latest home run in Cubs history.

Wood followed up on Carlos Zambrano's gem Wednesday with a mini-masterpiece of his own, striking out 13 and allowing only three hits in seven shutout innings. The Brewers set a National League record in an extra-inning game by striking out 24 times, breaking the 22-strikeout record of the New York Mets (1964) and Cincinnati Reds (1972).

"We have the capability of doing that, obviously, with this pitching staff," Wood said.

Eric Karros' solo homer off the equally impressive Ben Sheets in the seventh inning staked Wood to a 1-0 lead. Wood threw 121 pitches in his seven innings before Patterson pinch-hit for him in the eighth.

With two outs in the bottom of the eighth, Scott Podsednik's 415-foot home run to center field off Antonio Alfonseca tied the game.

The Cubs snatched a 2-1 lead in the 10th on Patterson's two-out RBI single off Mike DeJean, but the Brewers bounced back again. With former Cub Eric Young on second and two outs, Brady Clark drilled a Joe Borowski pitch into right. Young's headfirst slide into home beat Troy O'Leary's throw, tying the game 2-2. Both teams blew prime opportunities thereafter, and solid defense kept the Brewers alive.

The Cubs stranded two runners in the 11th when Ramon Martinez struck out to end the inning, and Juan Cruz bailed himself out of a 13th-inning jam, inducing John Vander Wal to fly out with runners on the corners and two outs. Mark Bellhorn found himself on third with two outs in the 14th when Miller lined a 3-2 pitch over Royce Clayton's head at short. But Clayton made a sensational leaping grab, saving a run and ending the threat.

On and on it went. Alex Gonzalez appeared to put the Cubs ahead with two outs in the 15th with another of his patented extra-inning home runs, but left fielder Geoff Jenkins leaped at the wall to snare the ball before it went over the fence.

"It was tense," Baker said. "Everybody wants to make the play. Everybody wants to make the pitch. You hate to see Richie Sexson and Vander Wal and Jenkins come up, especially with runners in scoring position. You hate to see them 0-for-6 or 0-for-7 because you know they're due. We dodged some real bullets today."