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Torrid-hitting Lee can't carry Cubs
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out the Cubs are lacking when it comes to putting together a prolonged hot streak.
But trying to put a finger on what exactly is ailing the club is a question best left for Rhodes scholars.
The Cubs blew three leads Thursday in a heartbreaking 8-7 loss to Milwaukee, ending the series with a split and dropping back to one game above the .500 at 36-35.
Bill Hall's two-out, two-strike, two-run homer off Mike Remlinger in the eighth inning gave the Brewers their first lead, and Derrick Turnbow closed it out in a shaky ninth for his 12th save.
So, what's up with the Cubs?
"I'm not sure," said Derrek Lee, who pounded two home runs (Nos. 21 and 22) and a single to raise his league-leading batting average to .395. "I just think we need to find a way to do a better job. Maybe we get a little complacent. If we win seven in a row, let's win 10 in a row. Instead of losing two or three in a row, lose one and then stop the losing streak.
"We have to get a little greedier."
The Brewers kept bouncing back against starter Glendon Rusch and the bullpen, with arch-nemesis Carlos Lee hitting another homer to give him 12 homers and 42 RBIs against the Cubs in 183 career at-bats.
"We're playing some tough teams right now, and Milwaukee seems to play us as tough as anybody," catcher Michael Barrett said. "They seem to get up for our games, for whatever reason. Carlos Lee seems to be the Cub-killer. He has been that way his whole career, and he hasn't let up at all."
Despite playing with a home-field disadvantage because of thousands of road-tripping Cubs fans, Milwaukee is 5-2 against the Cubs at Miller Park.
"Tough day today," manager Dusty Baker said. "We should have won that game."
Derrek Lee's 348-foot, two-run home run off Ben Sheets kicked off the Cubs' scoring in the first, and his 442-foot solo shot to dead center in the fourth gave them a 3-1 lead. But the Brewers tied it off Rusch in the fifth on Hall's one-out double and Carlos Lee's two-run blast to left.
At that point, the game became a Ping-Pong match, with the Brewers returning every shot the Cubs delivered.
Aramis Ramirez's run-scoring single in the sixth put the Cubs ahead 4-3, but Chad Moeller's solo homer in the bottom of the inning tied it again. The Cubs scored a pair in the seventh on Barrett's RBI double and Neifi Perez's RBI single, but reliever Michael Wuertz loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the inning before Chris Magruder greeted Will Ohman with a two-run single on a 3-2 pitch.
Remlinger retired the first two hitters he faced in the eighth before second baseman Todd Walker failed to flag down a ground-ball single off Jeff Cirillo's bat, keeping the inning alive for Hall's heroics.
"I thought it was an out at first," Remlinger said. "With the trajectory on it, I figured it was a line drive to center and Corey [Patterson] could get back there in time. The ball just kept going."
The Cubs rallied in the ninth off Turnbow when first baseman Wes Helms let Perez's grounder get past him for an RBI single, putting the tying run on base for Derrek Lee. Though Lee smoked a hard liner to left, Carlos Lee made a fine running catch to end it.
The Cubs are 2-5 on the trip with three games remaining at U.S. Cellular Field.
"You go out there in New York and get swept, then come in here and win the first two and think you're getting on a little bit of a roll," Remlinger said. "Then you turn around and give two ballgames away. You can't expect to go too far in a baseball season if you play like that."