CHICAGO – The Milwaukee Brewers came to Chicago looking every bit like a contender primed to roll over one of the league's worst teams.
Well, it didn't happen that way.
Instead, the NL Central leaders dropped three of four, leaving town after a mistake-filled 12-7 loss to the Cubs on Thursday in which Zack Greinke and everyone else they sent to the mound got hit hard.
"It's going to happen to the best teams," manager Ron Roenicke said. "It was tough for me to watch that game today. I didn't like the way we were pitching, we didn't field well. Offensively, I think we swung the bat well, so that was good to see. Usually, you get five runs and I feel great about the ballgame. It's one of those games. There's not a reason why it goes bad, just some games are going to turn out like this."
The Brewers were coming off a weekend sweep of St. Louis, but they fell flat in Chicago.
"Just the way it occurred," manager Mike Quade said. "We haven't played great baseball, but there were a lot of plays today ... there was some execution today that I really liked to see."
Fukudome singled and scored in the first, hit an RBI triple and scored in the second, and delivered the big blow in the sixth when he connected off reliever Daniel Herrera to make it a four-run game. The right fielder also threw out Rickie Weeks twice trying to stretch singles into doubles, so it wasn't hard to see why Quade called it a career day for him afterward.
Fukudome shrugged that off, but he didn't downplay taking three of four from the NL Central leaders. Considering the Cubs had dropped 11 of 13 before this series and began the day with the second-worst record, that was hard to envision.
"Overall, we didn't play very good baseball and they played good baseball," the Brewers' Ryan Braun said. "That's a good team they have over there. I don't think they've played up to their expectations to this point. They're going to be in it at the end of the year, they've got a real good team. It's a combination of us playing bad and them playing good."
Pena put Chicago ahead 6-5 with a leadoff homer against Greinke (6-2) in the third. Soriano added a two-run shot in the seventh off Sergio Mitre, making it 11-5. Starlin Castro had three hits and the Cubs got a shot of momentum heading into their weekend series against the Yankees.
Even so, the Cubs got plenty of help in this one, with Weeks' ill-advised decisions on the bases in the fourth and seventh along with shaky defense and a poor performance by Greinke.
"I talked to Rickie," manager Ron Roenicke said. "I like these guys to be aggressive, but I just told him when we get down on runs and we're late in the ballgame, that's when we need to make sure of what we're doing. He's played awesome. He's on base all the time. He's played awesome."
Greinke was far from awesome.
The 2009 AL Cy Young winner allowed a season-high eight runs and eight hits in 5 1-3 innings and took his first loss since his Milwaukee debut against Atlanta on May 4, even though he struck out 10 and walked two.
They scored two against Greinke in the first and three more in the second, with three of those five runs coming on a passed ball, a wild pitch and an error, and things didn't get any better for Greinke after that.
He left trailing 6-5 with runners on second and third in the sixth after striking out a pinch-hitting Reed Johnson.
Herrera came in and Fukudome quickly gave the Cubs some breathing room when he drove a 1-2 pitch to the right-field seats for his third home run. That made it 9-5 and helped Garza (3-6) pick up a win even though he was far from dominant.
Greinke simply shrugged off his rough outing.
"It wasn't that bad," he said. "They had good at-bats. That was the main thing. A lot of their guys put good at-bats and good swings. Fukudome had a couple hits that started a rally and drove in a run. He had a real good game and a couple guys had some good at-bats and it worked out for them."
Notes: Cubs manager Mike Quade wasn't exactly shedding tears over New York's Derek Jeter missing this weekend's series. The Yankees are making their second regular-season trip to Wrigley Field, but they won't have their captain. Six hits shy of 3,000, Jeter is sidelined by a strained right calf. "I'm like every other baseball guy. I don't want this guy coming here getting his 3,000th hit," Quade said. ... Roenicke said the Brewers sent LHP Zach Braddock to Triple-A after Wednesday's game because of some punctuality issues. He was showing up at the ballpark on time, but was late going out for pregame warmups. "Zach's a good guy and works hard, he's trying to manage his stuff," Roenicke said. "You need him to go somewhere he can get everything right. Once he gets everything right ... he's throwing the ball good so we'd like to see him back." Braddock has spent time on the DL this season because of a sleep disorder.