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Edmonds hits slam to finish sweep of Brewers

Thursday, July 31, 2008

By COLIN FLY

AP Sports Writer

MILWAUKEE -- Jim Edmonds hit two homers, including a grand slam, and the Chicago Cubs finished off a four-game sweep of Milwaukee with an 11-4 rout on Thursday to extend their lead in the NL Central.

Just five days ago, the Cubs and Brewers were tied atop the division. After the sweep, the Brewers have lost five straight and are five games behind Chicago, which has won five straight.

The Cardinals began the day four games behind Chicago.

Rich Harden (1-1) picked up his first NL win, giving up a run and six hits in seven innings with nine strikeouts. He has yet to allow more than one run in any of his four starts since being traded to the Cubs.

Alfonso Soriano and Kosuke Fukudome also homered for the Cubs, who swept four games from the Brewers for the first time since 2003.

Edmonds provided all the offense needed after missing the previous three games because of a sore left knee. He led off the third with a homer to right to give the Cubs the lead. Chicago scored first in each game of the series, and outscored Milwaukee 31-11 in the series.

The Cubs improved to 8-2 at Milwaukee in the last two seasons.

Brewers starter Dave Bush (5-9) retired the first two batters in the fourth, but Aramis Ramirez walked, Fukudome doubled and Bush hit Mark DeRosa with an 0-2 pitch to bring up Edmonds.

The 38-year-old center fielder, who joined Chicago May 14, hit an opposite-field grand slam to left to make it 5-0. It was the seventh grand slam of his career and the 27th time he's hit two homers in a game.

Edmonds started the year with the San Diego Padres, hitting .178 in 26 games with one homer. He was released on May 9. After he cleared waivers, the Cubs signed him as a free agent on May 15.

Since then, Edmonds is hitting .277 with 12 homers in 155 at-bats.

Soriano added a solo homer and Fukudome hit a two-out, two-run shot in the eighth sandwiched around Ramirez's RBI double to make it 9-1.

The game nearly turned ugly in the ninth when Brewers reliever Eric Gagne threw behind Edmonds and was immediately ejected by home plate umpire Doug Eddings. Prince Fielder also was ejected in the bottom of the inning for arguing with Eddings.

Soriano finished the series 7-for-16 with two homers, three RBIs and three steals. The Cubs trailed just once in the series, and that was for one inning on Monday.

The Brewers have downplayed the much-hyped July series after initially calling it a dress rehearsal and a test for September and the playoffs.

Reigning AL Cy Young winner CC Sabathia and NL All-Star starter Ben Sheets couldn't beat Ted Lilly or Carlos Zambrano. Ryan Dempster pushed the Brewers to the brink of being swept Wednesday night with another strong effort, setting the stage for Harden.

The Brewers juggled their lineup Thursday, but it did little good against the righty, who allowed a solo homer to Fielder in the seventh before finishing his afternoon by striking out Jason Kendall, his former catcher in Oakland.

The Brewers snapped an 0-for-20 streak with runners in scoring position with Mike Cameron's one-out RBI single in the ninth. Bill Hall added a two-out, two-run double.

The two teams will meet six times in the final 12 games, including the final three games of the regular season at Miller Park.



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