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MIL@CHC: Wood jacks first homer of the season

CHICAGO -- Travis Wood did everything he could to beat the Brewers. He just didn't get much help.

Wood hit his third career home run but also served up a three-run shot to rookie Jeff Bianchi as the Brewers beat the Cubs, 4-1, on Tuesday night in front of 30,017, the smallest crowd of the season at Wrigley Field.

It was Wood's eighth straight loss, which is a career high, and the Cubs fell to a season-low 30-games under .500 (49-79). Wood (4-11) gave up three runs, on Bianchi's homer, over seven innings. Asked to sum up his season so far, the lefty shrugged.

"With tonight, I'm 4-11, so, not very good," he said.

With the exception of the one pitch to Bianchi, Wood kept pace with Yovani Gallardo (14-8), who struck out nine to help pad the Brewers' Major League strikeout lead. The Cubs fanned 11 times in the game, and this was the 10th time in 15 meetings this year the Brewers have totaled double-digit K's against them.

"When 'Yo' wants to pitch and he's throwing strikes and he's keeping the ball down like he's doing, he's tough," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "I don't think he had all his good stuff tonight, to tell you the truth. He's a big-game pitcher, not that tonight's a big game. When the chips are down, I'll take him on the mound with anybody."

Gallardo retired the last 13 batters he faced, and has given up nine earned runs in 42 2/3 innings over his last six starts for a 1.90 ERA. The Cubs mustered three hits in the game, and nothing after Wood's home run in the third.

"He has good command of three pitches," Chicago's Darwin Barney said. "He can throw that fastball with a little bit of sink, he can spot it on the corner. It's one of those things, a guy with command gave us a little bit of trouble and we couldn't get anything going. He was making his pitches and getting ahead of batters. It wasn't good from the beginning. He did pretty much the same thing he did to us the last time."

Gallardo beat the Cubs six days ago at Miller Park, and now is 7-2 in his career against them.

On Monday night, Ryan Braun, Aramis Ramirez and Corey Hart each homered for Milwaukee. That's to be expected. On Tuesday, the Brewers got their power from an unlikely source. With one out in the Milwaukee second, Hart doubled, but was caught in a rundown by Wood. Martin Maldonado was safe on a fielder's choice on the play, and Carlos Gomez then singled. Both scored on Bianchi's first Major League home run off a 3-0 pitch.

"Before the game, just joking around with him, I was asking him if he was going to hit his first big league home run," Gallardo said about Bianchi. "I mean, it's getting kind of late. He laughed."

He also delivered.

"It was 3-0 [in the count], and I should've known better," Wood said. "The pitcher was on deck. I didn't, and I made the pitch I did, and he hit it out."

Wood hit one out as well when he led off the Cubs' third with his third career home run, although he hit an 0-2 pitch from Gallardo into the left-field bleachers. The lefty is the second Cubs pitcher to connect this year, as Paul Maholm hit one out on June 23 against the D-backs. It was Wood's first blast since May 9, 2011.

"He's been swinging pretty good," Gallardo said of Wood. "I saw that my last start. I just tried to overthrow it and it came back over the plate, and he hit it out."

Wood didn't celebrate his blast.

"It's a moot point when you still lose the ballgame," he said.

The Brewers had runners at first and third with one out in the eighth, and a run scored when Rickie Weeks was caught stealing. The focus, Sveum said, should've been on the runner at third.

"It's unfortunate," Barney said. "We've got to keep our eye on that guy at third. That's our primary target at that point. Unfortunately, it didn't work out for us."

Unfortunately for the Cubs, now 7-20 dating to July 31, they've said that a lot this season.

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