CHICAGO (Reuters) - The Milwaukee Brewers waited nearly two years to stand alone at the top of their division but they had little time to savor the feeling as a 1-0 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Monday saw them slip back into a tie.
Milwaukee completed a three-game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals a day earlier to take the National League Central lead on their own for the first time since July 2009.
But the Brewers (38-29) managed just four hits against the Cubs (26-39), stymied by spectacular Chicago pitching, to fall back into a tie for the lead with the Cardinals.
Chicago starter Ryan Dempster struck out seven over seven scoreless innings and reliever Jeff Samardzija worked the eighth inning to record the victory.
"That was awesome," Dempster told reporters. "They're a really good team. They're playing really good baseball right now. We just had a really tough road trip and came out today and played this game as hard as we could."
Randy Wolf pitched seven innings for Milwaukee before leaving to start the eighth, where Chicago scored on a fielder's choice against reliever Kameron Loe.
Darwin Barney singled then advanced to third on a double from Carlos Pena. Aramis Ramirez then grounded out to bring home the winning run.
The Brewers had a chance to score the game's first run in the fifth where Yuniesky Betancourt tried to score from third base on a squeeze play bunt attempt by Wolf, who was unable to get the bat on the ball.
A running Betancourt was eventually tagged out to end the threat.
"You're taking a little bit of a chance there, but I felt good with Randy," said Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke. "He's a very good athlete. I felt good that he'd get a piece of the ball."
The Brewers have been on a searing run of late, going 24-8 since May 8 prior to Monday's defeat.
Slugger Prince Fielder has been instrumental during the run and has blasted eight home runs in June alone. He went 0-for-2 with two walks against Chicago.
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)