Cubs 7, Brewers 4
With a pair of pitchers on the disabled list, Chicago Cubs manager Mike Quade doesn't want the rest of his starting staff to press too hard to make up for their absence.
If Jeff Baker wants to keep hitting the ball the way he did Friday night to carry the club, though, Quade certainly won't mind.
Baker had four hits and drove in four runs, including his first homer of the season, and the Cubs beat the Milwaukee Brewers 7-4 on Friday. If the Cubs keep hitting like this, perhaps they won't be hit too hard by losing starters Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner for a couple of weeks.
''Whether our four or five guys are down at the start of the year, or it's Casey Coleman or (James) Russell or whoever else is going to be in those spots, you want to give them a cushion and try to take the pressure off them,'' Baker said. ''At the same time, those guys are good and they're up here for a reason.''
Baker and Geovany Soto went deep in a five-run fourth inning for the Cubs.
''Baker? Jiminy Christmas!,'' Quade said. ''Just unbelievable swinging the bat.''
Brewers pitcher Randy Wolf was impressed, too.
''He's obviously seeing the ball great today,'' Wolf said. ''And any mistake that you make against him today, he was going to capitalize on it.''
Carlos Zambrano (1-0) continued his recent string of winning performances against the Brewers at Miller Park. He went six innings, giving up four runs, seven hits and three walks with five strikeouts.
''Sometimes, I get lucky,'' Zambrano said. ''Like today, I gave up four runs, but still won the game. Our offense was good today and we won the game.''
Carlos Marmol put the first two batters on base in the ninth, but rallied to retire the side for his third save.
Prince Fielder hit his first homer of the season for the Brewers, who squandered a chance to climb back to .500 after an ugly 0-4 start.
Zambrano came into Friday's game 5-0 with a 2.53 ERA on the road against Milwaukee dating to April 2007. He also threw a no-hitter at Miller Park in September 2008 - not against the Brewers, but the Astros, in a game that was moved out of Houston because of Hurricane Ike. His opponent was Randy Wolf, now pitching for Milwaukee and starting for the Brewers on Friday.
Wolf (0-2) went six innings, giving up nine hits, six runs - two of which were earned - with a walk and five strikeouts. Wolf gave up another pair of home runs after getting tagged for two in his first start of the season, a loss at Cincinnati.
Fielder's solo shot off Zambrano in the second inning was his 100th home run at Miller Park. Milwaukee added a run later in the second when Casey McGehee scored on a groundout by George Kottaras.
Aramis Ramirez reached base to lead off the fourth when a pop fly dropped between Rickie Weeks, Fielder and Nyjer Morgan, with Weeks getting charged with an error. Soto made the Brewers pay for the mistake, pounding a pitch from Wolf deep to center field for a two-run homer and tying the game at 2.
Later in the inning, singles by Alfonso Soriano and Zambrano gave the Cubs runners on first and second with two outs - and Baker homered to left, giving the Cubs a 5-2 lead.
''The pitcher, he's got to be able to still stay focused,'' Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. ''It's not that much different than a pitcher walking the leadoff guy, or the leadoff guy getting a base hit. It's still just a runner on first base. I think any time an error's made, I think the pitchers, too, sometimes need to pick up that fielder.''
Milwaukee got a run back in the fourth on a sacrifice fly by Kottaras, and McGehee delivered an RBI single in the fifth, cutting Chicago's lead to 5-4. But Baker's RBI single in the sixth put the Cubs' lead back to two, and Marlon Byrd doubled to score Baker in the ninth.
Notes: The Cubs recalled RHP Jeff Stevens from Triple-A Iowa after placing Wells and Cashner on the 15-day DL. RHP Casey Coleman will pitch Sunday, and LHP James Russell will start Tuesday at Houston. ... Zambrano picked Carlos Gomez off first base in the third inning. ... Weeks had a pair of errors for the Brewers, who came into Friday's game with two total errors in their first seven games.