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While Carlos Zambrano was busy kicking dirt, breaking a bat over his leg and talking into his glove Wednesday night at Miller Park, his offense was busy doing nothing.
It all added up to a 4-0 Cubs loss to Milwaukee, giving the Brewers a three-game sweep and a little bit of respect.
The Cubs were swept for the first time in a three- or four-game series since Cincinnati did it on Sept. 24-26, 2002, back when Bruce Kimm was interim manager. They dropped six games behind the first-place Cardinals as they headed to St. Louis for a crucial three-game series that begins Friday.
"Just a bad three days," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "There's not much to say."
Brewers left-hander Doug Davis shut out the Cubs on four hits over eight innings, striking out a career-high nine. Mike Adams finished it with a scoreless ninth, handing the Cubs their second shutout loss in three days and their ninth of the season.
The club record for being shut out is 22 times, set in 1915 and tied in '68.
The Cubs struck out 17 times in the opener of the series, and finished the three games with nearly twice as many strikeouts (31) as hits (16). The heart of the Cubs' orderSammy Sosa, Moises Alou and Derrek Leecombined to go 2-for-28 during the Brewers' sweep.
Did the Cubs overlook the Brewers after their emotional sweep of the White Sox?
"We didn't take anybody for granted," Sosa said. "This is the major leagues. They pitched great for three days and made no mistakes."
In his first start since being named to the All-Star squad, Carlos Zambrano (9-4) threw 62 pitches over the first three innings, leading to a premature exit with two outs in the sixth and the Cubs trailing 4-0. He allowed four runs on eight hits and four walks in 52/3 innings, and was visibly distraught in the two-run third, kicking the mound after a first-pitch ball to Ben Grieve and prompting plate ump Phil Cuzzi to bark at him.
"I'm still learning about that," Zambrano said. "I know I did something that was bad to him, but it was in the excitement of the game.
When I say something, I just say it to myself. That [kicking] motion was the only bad thing."
Baker said Zambrano was "upset with himself."
"You don't want to see that," Baker said. "I can understand how Cuzzi took it."
Zambrano's outing was his shortest since being knocked out after five innings against Houston on May 25.
The Brewers put a run on the board in the second despite the fact Zambrano notched two strikeouts and started a double play with a bare-handed pickup of a slow roller. Lyle Overbay reached on a strikeout when the ball glanced off the glove of catcher Michael Barrett. Zambrano, who jumped up and down near the mound after the ball got away from Barrett, was charged with a wild pitch. After a walk to Grieve, Zambrano gave up a run-scoring single to Wes Helms.
A one-out walk to Craig Counsell in the third led to Geoff Jenkins' arching, two-run homer that put the Brewers ahead 3-0. The Cubs offense never threatened against Davis (9-6), who has won five of his last six starts. The only inning the Cubs put two men on against him came in the fourth, but Ramon Martinez grounded into an inning-ending force.
The Cubs' offensive malaise can be traced directly to one key injury, the groin strain that forced Aramis Ramirez out of the lineup last weekend. The Cubs are hitting a collective .200 in the five games without Ramirez, averaging 1.6 runs per game. Ramirez's replacements at thirdMartinez and rookie Brendan Harrisare a combined .231 with one RBI in 13 at-bats.