MILWAUKEE – Casey McGehee was in awe of Kerry Wood's fastball while the two were with the Cubs when McGehee was still a prospect in 2004.
McGehee can catch up with the veteran reliever's hardest pitches now. He delivered a pinch-hit, two-run homer with two outs in the eighth inning off Wood and the Milwaukee Brewers rallied to beat Chicago 6-5 on Sunday.
"It was kind of a weird feeling," said McGehee, who said he looked up to Wood while the two were in the Cubs' organization. "By no means was I going up there looking to hit a ball out of the ballpark."
Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun each hit a two-run homer for Milwaukee, which has won five of six after an 0-4 start.
This was the Brewers' most dramatic win this season.
McGehee had been mired in a 3-for-22 slump this homestand and didn't get the start. He'd expected to clear his thoughts with the day off before heading to the plate in a crucial situation.
"I put him up there because I felt like he could do it," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "I don't think all the time you look at exactly what a guy's doing during that time. Here's a guy that drove in (104) runs last year. He was the right guy to put up in that situation."
Wood (0-1) walked Yuniesky Betancourt after getting ahead 0-2 to open the eighth and Betancourt reached second on a sacrifice bunt. George Kottaras struck out, bringing up McGehee.
"I'd been pretty frustrated the way I've been swinging the bat, or not swinging, but the pitches I've been swinging at the last couple of days," McGehee said. "Luckily, the wind was blowing pretty good that way."
McGehee hit the second fastball he saw into the Cubs' bullpen in right.
"Home runs happen. Can't walk guys late in a game. That's why," Wood said. "We know we're going to play tight games. That's part of it. You start the inning off with a walk, you put yourself behind the 8-ball."
Chicago's Aramis Ramirez drove in three runs and had three doubles, but the bullpen couldn't hold on.
After Yovani Gallardo labored through five innings, Milwaukee's bullpen ran into trouble in the seventh, with relievers Sean Green, Mitch Stetter and Kameron Loe each allowing a runner to load the bases with one out.
Tyler Colvin's RBI groundout off Loe (1-0) gave the Cubs a 5-4 lead, but it didn't last thanks to McGehee.
Brewers closer John Axford allowed a leadoff single to Marlon Byrd in the ninth, but Byrd was caught stealing by Kottaras, and Axford retired Ramirez and Carlos Pena for his third save in four opportunities.
"It was a fantastic homestand, it really was," Axford said. "We really battled a lot. We got some fantastic pitching, some fantastic offense and defense."
Ramirez had started this road trip that continues Monday in Houston 1 for 8 before doubling down the left-field line in the first inning to drive in two. Fielder tied it in the bottom of the first with his second homer.
"You never want to be out of it," said Fielder, who is 11 for 18 with two home runs and 11 RBIs in his last four games after a 3-for-17 start. "We'd like to go to the playoffs. That'd be cool."
Chicago added runs in the second on Darwin Barney's RBI single and the third on Ramirez's run-scoring double to put the Cubs up 4-2, but Milwaukee tied it again on Braun's two-run shot off Casey Coleman in the bottom of the third.
Coleman got the start because Randy Wells (right forearm) is on the disabled list.
Cubs right fielder Kosuke Fukudome saved a run in the second with a diving catch for the third out and made a shoestring grab with two on and one out in the fifth to keep the game tied.
After doubling for the third time in the fifth, Ramirez was thrown out at the plate when third baseman Craig Counsell went home with Geovany Soto's slow roller to set up the back-and-forth finish.
"We were just looking for a knockout punch all day long offensively," Cubs manager Mike Quade said. "We're just not giving ourselves much room for error."
NOTES: Coleman hit his second career double in the fourth. ... With a day off on Monday, Brewers RHP Takashi Saito (hamstring) is not expected to go on the disabled list despite his nagging injury. ... Cubs OF Alfonso Soriano also was out of the starting lineup, but pinch hit in the sixth for Fukudome, who left with a mild hamstring strain and is day to day. ... Brewers LHP Manny Parra (back) will report to Triple-A Nashville on Tuesday for his second rehab start.