Illini rally past W.Michigan, first 4-0 start since 1951

CHAMPAIGN—For about a half, No. 24 Illinois relived a bad memory as the Illini fell behind Western Michigan — the same team that embarrassed them three years ago.Down 13-10 at halftime, Illinois badly needed a way to move the ball on the Broncos and it found it in the combination of Troy Pollard, a senior tailback who’s never quite cracked the top of the depth chart, and Donovonn Young, a freshman who may be on his way to doing just that.Pollard had a career-high 133 yards rushing, Young piled up 100 and the Illini came from behind to survive the Broncos, 23-20, on a Saturday that had the distinct feeling of relief.The win gives Illinois a 4-0 record for the first time since 1951, the year the Illini won the national championship. But after trailing 13-10 at the half with fans booing, there was no talk of unbeaten records or titles of any kind.In the Western Michigan locker room, quarterback Alex Carder struggled to explain how the Broncos (2-2, 1-0 MAC) had become the loser.Carder finished 30 of 48 with 306 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, while Jordan White had his 14th career 100-yard game, catching 14 balls for 132 yards a TD.Western Michigan had the ball for almost 17 minutes of the first half, keeping the Illini defense on the field and building that halftime lead.Over the final two quarters Illinois, using that ground game, held the ball for more than 22 minutes, keeping it away from Carder and White. Carder had 100 yards passing over the final 30 minutes and White was held to four catches and a relatively modest 43 yards.In all, Illinois had 296 rushing yards on 52 carries, 184 of those yards in the second half with Pollard and Young sharing most of the load.Early in the third quarter with a first and 10 at the Western Michigan 14, quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase ran left on an option with Young trailing him, taking the pitch just as Scheelhaase absorbed a wicked hit.Young scooted around the corner, shooting a gap between three Broncos defenders and into the end zone. Illinois was back in the lead at 17-13 with 10:27 left in the quarter.After a Derek Dimke field goal put the Illini up 20-13, Western Michigan tied the game late in the quarter on a seven-yard pass from Carder to White, whipped hard as the receiver ran toward the right side of the end zone chased by safety Steve Hull.Early in the fourth quarter, though, Pollard gave the Illini the edge they would use to win.On a first and 10 at the Illinois 30, the back squirted out of the middle of Illini offense and down the right sideline for his 49 yard run, forced out by cornerback Lewis Toller. A few plays later, with 8:14 left in the game, Dimke hit a 21-yard field goal that put Illinois up 23-20.Early on, Carder, White and Illinois’ offensive struggles gave the Broncos a great chance for a repeat of the 2008 upset that would have cost Illinois their week-old ranking. The Illini only moved into the Top 25 with last Saturday’s win over Arizona State.With the Illini up 10-3, Western Michigan struck with a 76-yard, clock-eating drive that ended with a 23-yard field goal from John Potter that cut the deficit to 10-6.The Illini ran three plays that went nowhere before backup punter Ryan Lankford, one of Illinois’ starting receivers, blooped a 21-yard, rugby-style punt that set up the Broncos at the Illini 39. Three plays later, Carder hit receiver Chleb Ravenell, who sidestepped charging safety Supo Sanni and sprinted to the end zone for a 35-yard touchdown and a 13-10 lead.

Marmol goes wild in ninth, Cards edge Cubs 2-1


ST. LOUIS—The Cardinals stayed alive in the NL wild-card race by keeping their bat on their shoulders.Carlos Marmol forced home the tying run with a bases-loaded walk to Ryan Theriot with two outs in the ninth inning and followed with a game-ending wild pitch, giving St. Louis a 2-1 victory over the Cubs on Saturday.Recovering from two painful losses, the Cardinals remained two games behind the Braves with four to play.Manager Tony La Russa said he got accidentally punched in the jaw during the ensuing celebration. He said it was sore, but didn’t seem to mind.The Cardinals have won eight times in their final at-bat, and this was the third one against the Cubs. They won on a wild pitch for the first time since Ray Lankford scored against Colorado’s Jose Jimenez on April 9, 2001.St. Louis drew three straight walks before pinch-runner Adron Chambers, a rookie, scored the winning run standing up on a 1-0 pitch to Rafael Furcal that was in the dirt and rolled to the backstop.St. Louis plays the Cubs again Sunday in the home finale, then closes with three games at Houston.Jason Motte (5-2) got two outs for the win when St. Louis ended a string of 15 consecutive scoreless innings. Motte bounced back two days after getting victimized in the New York Mets’ six-run ninth-inning comeback.Marmol (2-6) blew a save for the 10th time in 44 opportunities. This was the third time he walked three, and he’s lost all of them.The Cubs’ closer has 46 walks in 73 innings. When he’s off, hitters wait him out.Rodrigo Lopez worked six scoreless innings and Andrew Cashner and Sean Marshall each worked a perfect inning before the Cardinals’ rally that began with a single by Matt Holliday and a pair of two-out walks to Yadier Molina and Schumaker.Theriot walked on a full count. Rafael Furcal took a called strike and Marmol threw his next pitch into the dirt.Holliday returned after a nine-game absence due to an injury to his right hand and Furcal was back at shortstop after committing a crucial error on a potential double-play Thursday, sparking the Mets’ six-run rally. Furcal had made five errors in six games.The Cubs bunched three of their six hits in the first, including Alfonso Soriano’s RBI single off Kyle Lohse.Lohse had a season-high eight strikeouts and didn’t allow a runner in scoring position his last six innings, retiring 10 in a row at one point. He has allowed 17 first-inning runs this year.The Cardinals won all three of Lohse’s starts against the Cubs.Albert Pujols walked in the sixth and has reached safely in 40 consecutive games, breaking a tie with Johnny Damon for the longest in the majors this season.

NOTES—Attendance of 42,571 was the Cardinals’ best since a turnout of 43,960 on July 31, also against the Cubs….Edwin Jackson (12-9, 3.85 ERA) faces the Cubs for the third time since joining the Cardinals in late July in Sunday’s home finale, opposing Randy Wells (7-5, 5.09). Jackson is 2-1 with a 3.60 ERA overall this year against the Cubs…..Soriano has 27 RBI in his last 28 games. He’s batting .386 (17 for 44) against Lohse with three homers and 11 RBI…. Lance Berkman singled in the sixth and has a 12-game hitting streak….Marlon Byrd robbed Schumaker in the seventh, charging to make a diving catch….   Motte made his 77th appearance, tying the franchise single-season high for a right-hander, and the scoreless outing was his first since Sept. 14 at Pittsburgh

Sox used early homers to beat Royals 6-3

Alex Rios and Brent Morel homered to back John Danks and lead the White Sox over the Kansas City Royals 6-3 Saturday night, stopping the Sox five-game home losing streak.Danks (8-12) improved to 5-0 in 12 starts against the Royals, allowing three runs and six hits in 7 1/3 innings. He retired his first 14 batters before Salvador Perez’s fifth-inning single.Rios had three hits, including a a two-run homer in the second and a leadoff triple in the eighth. Morel’s homer was his 10th of the season, including eight in September.While the Sox won for just the fourth time in 14 games, the Royals lost for the third time in their last 12. At 77-81, the White Sox need to win their remaining games to avoid their third losing season in eight years under manager Ozzie Guillen.Adam Dunn went 0 for 3 with a walk, leaving him with a .162 batting average. He has 485 plate appearances and needs 17 in the team’s last four games to become an official qualifier. The post-1900 record for lowest batting average by a qualifier is .179 by Detroit’s Rob Deer in 1991.Everett Teaford (3-0) allowed five runs and six hits in five innings after giving up one run in 11 innings during his first two major league starts.Melky Cabrera had a two-run double and two hits, reaching 199 for the season.Teaford walked three in the four-run second, when Rios homered, Juan Pierre walked with the bases full and Alexei Ramirez hit a sacrifice fly.Morel homered leading off the fourth. His second-inning walk was his 15th of September — he had just seven this year before then.Cabrera’s 44th double of the season drove in two runs in the sixth, and Hosmer’s RBI single cut the deficit to 5-3.

NOTES—Alex Gordon was back with the Royals after spending Friday’s game at the team’s hotel because of flu-like symptoms. He was expected to play on Sunday. … Gavin Floyd will take the mound for the White Sox in Sunday’s series finale, looking to improve upon his 3-7 mark against Kansas City. The Royals will counter with Luis Mendoza, who allowed one run in seven innings Tuesday in his first big league start of the season.

Crew clinches first Division in 29 years with 4-1 win over Marlins

Milwaukee Brewers logo

MILWAUKEE—Ryan Braun stepped into the box when a familiar feeling overcame him. Just like in 2008, the Brewers homegrown slugger propelled Milwaukee back into the postseason.Braun hit a three-run, go-ahead homer in the eighth with chants of “M-V-P” ringing throughout the sellout crowd and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Florida Marlins 4-1 on Friday night to win their first division title since 1982.Fielder also homered for Milwaukee, which clinched the NL Central and reached the postseason at the earliest date in team history after waiting 20 minutes for the Cubs to finish off their 5-1 win over the Cardinals.With most of sellout crowd still in its seats, fireworks went off again after the Cardinals lost and fans were showered with confetti and streamers.Nearly an hour after the Cubs’ victory, Fielder took a victory lap around the field, hugging several of the nearly 5,000 fans that stayed to party.Braun homered off Clay Hensley (6-7) to end a 1-for-16 skid. He then pointed his bat in the air toward owner Mark Attanasio and the fans before rounding the bases.It was reminiscent of his 2008 homer on the last day of the season that lifted Milwaukee to its first postseason appearance since winning the AL East in 1982. Now, they’re back.In 2008, the Brewers waited for the Marlins to eliminate the Mets before they could celebrate.Shortly after the Cardinals’ first out, the team congregated in the Brewers clubhouse, passing out champagne and preparing for its second celebration in four seasons.The stadium has remained packed even though this season hasn’t been as dramatic as ’08. Milwaukee built a 10½-game lead midway through August over St. Louis, and even though the Cardinals whittled it down, time ran out.

“It means a lot, we’ve got a great team, the fans are with us all here,” Fielder said. “I’m just glad we’re able to do it, we’ve got a little ways to go, but I’m going to enjoy the hell out of this. Hopefully, we go all the way.”

Milwaukee fell to the Cardinals in seven games in the 1982 World Series, but even that season they didn’t have a home-field advantage like this.The Brewers are 53-23 at Miller Park, one win away from tying the most home wins in franchise history.Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo pitched into the eighth, setting two franchise records for strikeouts before leaving when Emilio Bonifacio singled and second baseman Rickie Weeks couldn’t handle a throw that put two on.Francisco Rodriguez (6-2) came in and struck out Mike Stanton and Logan Morrison to end the inning, pumping his fist and beating his chest after escaping the jam.Corey Hart doubled off Hensley with one out and Nyjer Morgan walked to bring up Braun. Milwaukee had been 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position before Braun’s at-bat.After fouling a pitch off and working the count to 3-1, Braun hit Hensley’s slider to deep left-center field, hitting off the scoreboard supports, then returned for a curtain call from the crowd of 44,584.John Axford converted his 44th save in 46 chances with a perfect ninth, including the last 41 in a row, but had to pause with two outs in the ninth when the Cubs-Cardinals score was displayed after Alfonso Soriano hit a three-run homer.Milwaukee has made three previous trips to the playoffs, but never was assured a spot until either the next to last day or final day of the season.Fielder’s homer off Chris Volstad was his 35th this year, but that was the only mistake the lanky right-hander made. Volstad deserved better. He scattered five hits and struck out five, but hasn’t won a start since July 10.The Marlins tied it in the fourth when Sanchez doubled and scored on Petersen’s two-out single. Braun made a diving catch in the fifth, setting the stage for his big at-bat.In the span of two weeks in December, Melvin dealt his starting shortstop, backup center fielder, top pitching prospect, top hitting prospect and two pitchers who projected to be no worse than major league relievers.The returns included 2009 AL Cy Young winner Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum. Melvin said the Brewers were all-in, just liked they were in 2008 when they traded for CC Sabathia at midseason.Milwaukee remained in third place behind Pittsburgh and St. Louis on July 25. Milwaukee then won 27 of 32 to take a 10½-game lead in the NL Central. Milwaukee joined the NL in 1998 and watched St. Louis win seven division titles while the Brewers remained mostly in the bottom of the division.Things began changing when Attanasio, an L.A. investment banker, purchased the Brewers in September 2004 from Commissioner Bud Selig’s family and steadily raised the payroll, up to more than $85 million to start this season.Milwaukee holds losing records against the Phillies, Braves and Diamondbacks — the other three NL teams in line to join them in the postseason. This time, the Brewers come in a team built on pitching and still has a potent offense.

NOTES—Marlins closer Leo Nunez admitted Friday to using fake documents and a fake ID to sign a professional contract more than a year ago and Dominican authorities arrested a man accused of falsifying Nunez’s documents….With Nunez gone, McKeon will finish the season mixing and matching who will close games….Morgan received an award as the team’s high energy player of the year, and his alter ego, Tony Plush, got a second trophy in a lighthearted moment….Greinke (15-6, 3.75 ERA) faces Marlins RHP Alex Sanabia (0-0, 1.29) in the second of this three-game series on Saturday night.

Cubs put Cards down again, 5-1 on Soriano blast

ST. LOUIS—The St. Louis bullpen took another pounding, leaving the Cardinals’ wild-card hopes in serious jeopardy. Manager Tony La Russa was pretty peeved about his hitters, too.Alfonso Soriano’s first home run of the month was a tiebreaking three-run shot in the eighth inning that sent the Chicago Cubs to a 5-1 victory on Friday night. The loss dropped the Cardinals three games behind Atlanta, which beat Washington 7-4, for the wild card. The defeat also clinched the NL Central for Milwaukee.The Cardinals grounded into three double plays for a season total of 165, by far the most in the major leagues and one shy of the team’s National League record set in 1958. They were 3 for 16 with men on base and 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position.Carpenter was lifted for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the seventh after throwing 93 pitches. The St. Louis bullpen got punished for the second straight game when Soriano connected off Kyle McClellan (12-7). Starlin Castro added an RBI single off Mitchell Boggs in the ninth.Carpenter had no argument with La Russa’s decision to lift him. During his tenure in St. Louis, the manager rarely has lifted his aces when they still had the game in their hands and with a reasonable pitch count.The Cardinals missed a chance to narrow their wild-card deficit to one game on Thursday when they let the New York Mets score six runs in the ninth off three relievers. Now, after the fourth loss in 16 games, they have just five games left to catch Atlanta.Shortstop Rafael Furcal, whose fielding error opened the door for the Mets’ big inning, did not play. He has five errors in his last six games.St. Louis grounded into its last double play in the eighth after getting two hits off Jeff Samardzija (8-4) with Matt Holliday set to pinch hit.Carpenter allowed a run on five hits in seven innings, coming on the heels of eight shutout innings in his last start against the Phillies. His squeeze bunt in the second drove in the Cardinals’ lone run.The Cardinals surpassed 3 million in attendance for the eighth straight season with a crowd of 40,355.Castro opened the game with a single for his 200th hit, at age 21 becoming the youngest player in Cubs history to do it. Carlos Pena had an RBI double in the sixth and three walks to give him 97 on the year, the most by a Cubs first baseman in statistics kept since 1900.Darwin Barney tripled to lead off the eighth and Pena was intentionally walked with one out before Soriano, who’s 4 for 8 with two homers and five RBI against McClellan, hit his first homer since Aug. 30 into the visitors’ bullpen in left.The Cardinals loaded the bases with one out in the sixth on two walks and a single. Ryan Dempster fell behind 2-0 in the count to each of the first four hitters but Ryan Theriot grounded into a double play swinging on the first pitch.Dempster allowed a run on four hits in six innings, his fifth quality start in five tries this month with nothing to show for it. He’s 0-3 in September despite a 3.34 ERA, and 0-5 in his last seven overall.

NOTES—Kyle Lohse (14-8, 3.47) opposes Rodrigo Lopez (6-6, 4.71) in the second game of the series Saturday. Lopez is 2-5 with a 6.70 ERA against the Cardinals and Lohse is one shy of his career high for wins….The Cardinals honored farm clubs Johnson City (Appalachian) and Quad Cities (Midwest) for championship seasons in a pregame ceremony…..D.J. LeMahieu made an outstanding leaping catch on Theriot’s liner to end the fourth. Carpenter nimbly fielded Castro’s squibber and made a nice throw to end the fifth…..Carpenter has worked seven or more innings 20 times….McClellan has allowed 21 homers after giving up a total of 20 his three previous seasons, all as a setup man.

Chen does it to the Sox again, Royals win 11-1

Bruce Chen enjoys U.S. Cellular Field, especially since he’s figured out how to pitch on the home field of White Sox.Chen allowed only two hits in eight strong innings and the Kansas City Royals hit four homers off Zach Stewart to rout the White Sox 11-1 Friday night.Jeff Francoeur, Eric Hosmer, Salvador Perez and Alcides Escobar also homered for the Royals. Kansas City has won nine of 11 overall in a late-season surge. Chen (12-8) finished 3-1 this season against the White Sox, with all three of the wins at U.S. Cellular Field. His lone loss to the Sox came last Sunday in Kansas City, when he gave up nine hits and four runs in 5 1/3 innings.The only hit allowed by Chen through the first six innings was an infield single by Dayan Viciedo in the second. It was a grounder in the hole that third baseman Mike Moustakas fielded, and he spun around and threw high to first. Paul Konerko hit his 31st homer in the seventh inning.Chen walked one and struck out four. Vin Mazzaro pitched a hitless ninth.

“Bruce has been good against us and pitching well all year long. Now it’s no mystery,” said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, who was Chen’s teammate with Atlanta in the late 1990s. “He owns the White Sox.”

With Guillen’s future unclear, The Sox have lost 10 of 13. And Friday night’s defeat left the White Sox at 76-81, ensuring they won’t have a winning record despite a $127 million payroll.Hosmer hit a solo shot in the second, his 19th of the season. Perez had a three-run drive in the fourth, his third of the season, and Escobar followed one batter later with his fourth homer of the season.Francoeur connected for his 20th of the season, a two-run shot, in the fifth to reach the 20-20 plateau. He also has 22 steals.Stewart, who gave up 12 hits and nine runs and also committed two errors in four-plus innings. Stewart (2-6) lost for the third straight time since pitching a one-hit shutout against the Twins on Sept. 5.Kansas City finished with 18 hits, four by Moustakas.

NOTES—CF Lorenzo Cain made his Royals’ debut after spending the season with Triple-A Omaha and had two hits. Cain was acquired in a trade that sent Zack Greinke to Milwaukee. He played 43 games for the Brewers last season … Everett Teaford (2-0) will pitch in Saturday’s game against the White Sox. John Danks (7-12) goes for Chicago. Teaford beat the White Sox last Saturday in KC, giving up four hits and a run over six innings. Danks is 2-0 with a 2.37 ERA in three starts against the Royals this season and 4-0 with a 2.63 ERA in his career against the Royals.

McMillen to return as Rush Coach for 2012

Chicago Sky

ROSEMONT—Bob McMillen will return as Rush head coach in 2012, the Arena Football League team announced Friday.In the 2011 season, the rookie head coach guided the Rush to a franchise record 13 wins, a division championship and a berth in the National Conference title game.

“It is extremely exciting to return to this phenomenal organization,” McMillen said in a statement. “I look forward to working hard again this season with the ultimate goal of returning to the playoffs and playing for the Arena Bowl championship.”

 Voted one of AFL’s 20 greatest players, McMillen was three-time Arena Bowl champion as a player and helped the Rush to a 2006 Arena Football League championship. He later served as assistant coach in 2008 and 2010 and was promoted to head coach for the 2011 season.A graduate of Immaculate Conception High School, McMillen was a three-time All-America pick at Illinois Benedictine (now Benedictine University).



Week Three NFL Picks(26-6 through 2 weeks)
Atlanta over TAMPA BAY
New England over BUFFALO
CAROLINA over Jacksonville
CINCINNATI over San Francisco
NEW ORLEANS over Houston
TENNESSEE over Denver
OAKLAND over NY Jets
SAN DIEGO over Kansas City
Baltimore over ST.LOUIS
CLEVELAND over Miami
SEATTLE over Arizona

Sunday Night:
Pittsburgh over INDIANAPOLIS

Monday Night:
DALLAS over Washington

Detroit over MINNESOTA
Green Bay over BEARS



Sox lose Road finale 11-2 to Tribe

CLEVELAND—Asdrubal Cabrera drove in five runs and Jeanmar Gomez won his fifth straight start for Cleveland as the Indians beat the White Sox 11-2 on Thursday night to remain in second place in the AL Central.Gomez (5-2) gave up one earned run and four hits over six innings. Since being recalled from Triple-A Columbus on Aug. 30, the right-hander is 5-0 with a 1.80 ERA. Cabrera hit a three-run homer and tied his career-high for RBIs. Kosuke Fukudome added three RBIs and Travis Hafner singled for his 1,000th career hit as Cleveland moved 1½ games ahead of the White Sox.Fukudome’s two-out, two-run single off Phillip Humber (9-9) in the fifth inning broke a 2-2 tie.Fukudome had driven Humber’s second pitch of the game over the wall in right for his fifth homer. Four pitches later, Jason Kipnis hit his seventh for a 2-0 lead.It was the fourth time in Indians history and only the second time at home that Cleveland opened a game with two homers. Graig Nettles and Vada Pinson did it on June 19, 1971, at old Cleveland Stadium.Cabrera’s three-run homer in the seventh was his 25th of the season. That set an Indians record for a shortstop, surpassing Jhonny Peralta’s 24 in 2005. Cabrera added a two-run single in the eighth.An error by Cabrera at shortstop helped the Sox tie it at 2 in the fifth.With two outs and runners on first and second, Juan Pierre singled home Alejandro De Aza. Cabrera took the throw from right fielder Fukudome and threw wildly trying to get Brent Morel at third. Third baseman Jack Hannahan tracked down the ball and fired home, but Morel slid in safely with an unearned run.The White Sox almost caught a break in the bottom half. Humber had retired 14 straight until Hannahan drew a two-out walk and apparently scored on a slicing drive down the left-field line by Ezequiel Carrera that looked like an RBI triple. Ozzie Guillen argued that a fan reached over a railing and touched the ball. The umpires huddled, agreed, and sent Hannahan back to third, ruling that Carrera got a ground-rule double.Fukudome’s soft line drive to left scored them both anyway.Humber gave up seven runs and eight hits over six innings. Fukudome went 2 for 3 against him to improve to 4 for 10 against the right-hander since being acquired by Cleveland from the Cubs in July.Earlier this season, Fukudome gave even more pain to Humber. On Aug. 18 in Chicago, he lined a ball off the pitcher’s face, just above the right eye. Humber was on the disabled list until Sept. 2.

NOTES—The Sox won the season series 11-7. …Omar Vizquel and Cleveland DH Jim Thome exchanged the lineup cards – a first for both former Indians teammates who have a combined 44 seasons and 5,388 games in the majors. “I hope it’s not the last time we see these guys on the same field somewhere,” Guillen said. “The next stop for both is the Hall of Fame, but they can still play.” … The Indians will salute Thome on Friday for surpassing 600 career homers and his other contributions. Before Thursday’s game, Acta said the 41-year-old Thome would start at DH in Hafner’s place Friday. “Even if Hafner hits three homers tonight, Jimmy is playing,” Acta said. “Well, maybe three homers would change my mind.” … The last time the Indians hit two homers to open a game, Grady Sizemore and Casey Blake did it in Kansas City on May 23, 2007. … RHP Justin Masterson (12-10) will oppose RHP Carl Pavano (8-13) on Friday night when Cleveland opens a four-game home series against Minnesota. … The White Sox open a three-game series at home against Kansas City on Friday with Zach Stewart (2-5) facing Royals LHP Bruce Chen (11-8).

Cubs win home finale 5-1 over Brewers

Milwaukee Brewers logo

The celebration is taking longer than the Milwaukee Brewers had hoped or expected. Clinching the NL Central will come down to the final homestand of the season after they lost again Wednesday to the Cubs.Matt Garza pitched a six-hitter and Marlon Byrd hit a three-run homer for the Cubs in their Wrigley Field finale.The loss left the Brewers’ magic number for winning the division title and closing out second-place St. Louis remained at three. The Cardinals played the New York Mets on Wednesday night.The Brewers dropped two of their games against the Cubs and finished 39-42 on the road. They now go to Miller Park to wind up the regular season with a six-game homestand against the Marlins and Pirates beginning Friday.Garza (9-10), 3-0 in his last five starts, allowed just an unearned run and struck out 10 in pitching his second complete game this season and eighth of his career. He walked one in a 123-pitch effort.DJ LeMahieu broke a 1-all tie with two-out, two-run double in the fifth off Randy Wolf (13-10). Center fielder Nyjer Morgan appeared to lose the ball in the sun and the drive scored Alfonso Soriano, who had singled, and Starlin Castro, who was intentionally walked as he came to the plate trying for his 200th hit of the season.Byrd’s three-run shot, his ninth homer of the season, followed singles by Jeff Baker and Geovany Soto in the sixth.Wolf, who entered the game with a 1.37 ERA in three previous starts this season against the Cubs, allowed 10 hits and six runs in six innings.He said his cut fastball not the same after he was hit in the wrist with a pitch by Garza while attempting to bunt in the third inning. He said the wrist was stiff, but he expected to be OK in a couple of days.Wolf said the chance to clinch at home and claim the franchise’s first division title since 1982 — the only time the Brewers made the World Series — will more than make up for the wait.Castro’s error on a double-play grounder allowed the Brewers to take a 1-0 lead in the third. Yuniesky Betancourt led off with a single and Garza plunked Wolf. Corey Hart hit a grounder toward the middle that Castro reached, but the shortstop’s flip was wide of second and Betancourt scored.Castro made up for it with an RBI single in the bottom half on a hard ball that deflected off third baseman Jerry Hairston Jr. Castro’s 199th hit of the season scored Bryan LaHair, who led off with a double.In his final three plate appearances needing one hit to get to 200, the 21-year-old Castro drew an intentional walk, grounded to short and then walked in the eighth. Cubs manger Mike Quade said when Castro had a 3-0 count in his last at-bat he didn’t give him a green light to try and get No. 200 at home. Not with such big lead.Quade said he even asked Garza, who was up before Castro’s last at-bat, to strike out and avoid hitting into a double play that could deprive Castro of one more chance.But Garza did swing and grounded out to the pitcher.

NOTES—Milwaukee’s Yovani Gallardo will make his 33rd start of the season and second of the season against the Marlins in the series opener. He struck out a career-high 13 in his start last Saturday against the Reds….Castro has reached base in 34 straight games, matching the Cubs’ record for a shortstop set in 1929 by Woody English….Aramis Ramirez sat out with a leg injury in what could have been his final home game for the Cubs….A crowd of 30,965 gave the Cubs a home attendance for 2011 of 3,017,966. It marked the eighth straight season the Cubs have drawn more than three million fans.They finished 39-42 at home…..Garza’s first complete game this season came in a losing effort, 1-0 against the White Sox on July 2.