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Let's see.

Two fast-working pitchers mowing down offenses on a cool day.

Second batter for the home team hits a solo home run.

Didn't we see this game last night?

Sure felt like it. The only thing missing was the visiting team, this time the Cubs, hitting the game-tying homer in the top of the ninth off the home team, this time the Brewers', closer, and so the Cubs, despite allowing one run for the second game in a row, had their four-game winning streak snapped and lost to Milwaukee 1-0, the only run scoring on a home run by, of all people, Craig Counsell -- his second of the year and only his 17th in a 2200-at bat career. Aside from the homer, the Brewers had only two other hits, both singles, and six walks from Clement, all of whom were stranded.

Matt Clement deserved better, but he ran into an absolute buzzsaw today in Ben Sheets, who is now 7-2 lifetime against the Cubs. Sheets struck out 12 and the Brewer bullpen (Luis Vizcaino and Dan Kolb) got five of their six outs on strikeouts. I can't fault the Cubs for swinging away today -- Brewer pitchers threw 101 strikes out of 148 total pitches -- but they clearly missed the bats of Aramis Ramirez, still sitting out his groin injury, and Moises Alou, who was given the day off and who was on deck waiting to bat for Rey Ordonez when Jose Macias struck out to end the game.

The crowd, 45,016, second-largest in Miller Park history, seemed about 2/3 Cub fans, and it will be the same for the nine other games 90 miles up the road over the next six weeks. It included Howard and his family and Jeff, who went up as part of a big bus tour organized by some of the folks in the LF bleachers. They had little to cheer about today as despite six hits (two doubles) and a walk, the Cubs never seriously threatened to score.

It was a weird day both here and there. It's unusually cool -- about 68 degrees -- here in Chicago, and we were supposed to take the kids swimming at Carole & Ernie's pool today. That was crossed off the list due to the cool and cloudy weather. So Rachel went bicycle riding -- and took her Cubs cap off. Well, she's worn it through the entire four-game winning streak, when the Cubs were playing, and so perhaps that spell was broken. I think I'll make her wear it tomorrow night. We must all take one for the team.

It was even cooler in Milwaukee -- 59 degrees at gametime -- and thus I think the decision to play the game with the roof open was an odd one. The shadow came over home plate early and almost certainly led to the large number of strikeouts (28, only two short of the major league record of 30 for both teams in a nine-inning game). They should have closed the roof.

The Cardinals won their own fourth in a row today, 4-1 over the Reds, and so the Cubs drop to four games out, two games ahead of the Brewers, who are a whole lot better than I thought they'd be this year. Here's what I said about them in April in my annual predictions (yes, I'll own up to it), picking them for last place in the Central:

Offense: Horrid
Defense: Putrid
Pitching: Awful
Intangibles: Could be worse than the Tigers

Well, "could be worse than the Tigers" was at least close -- Detroit's also been vastly improved and is only five games worse than Milwaukee as of this day. The worst part about this is that I made a friendly bet with my new friend John Aldrich from the Phoenix area during spring training that the Brewers wouldn't win more games this year than last (68). So, it appears I owe him dinner at the Pink Pony in Scottsdale next March.

I've digressed again, darnitall!

The good news about the Cardinals win is that it begins to put the Reds where they are likely going to finish in the division, and assuming that the Cubs right the ship the next two days with Mark Prior and Carlos Zambrano going, then playing the Cardinals head-to-head this weekend, this could become a two-team race fairly quickly. As of now the Cubs still plan to have Kerry Wood throw a rehab start tomorrow in Des Moines against Albuquerque (the AAA club of the Marlins), and if all goes well he may start against the Cardinals on Sunday, which means that Glendon Rusch, who has thrown so well, would have his start skipped due to the off day, and would be available in the bullpen (other starters against the Cardinals would be Greg Maddux on Friday and Clement on Saturday).

Wood was at Wrigley Field last night shagging flies and throwing baseballs into the bleachers during BP and looking just fine, so I'd think this would be a logical progression. Having him start that day, would also allow the Cubs to make the post-All Star rotation:

Prior (starting tomorrow, perhaps available to relieve in St. Louis)
Wood (starting Sunday, then on normal four-day rest)
Zambrano (starting Wednesday and appearing in the All-Star Game)
Clement (starting Saturday)
Maddux (starting Friday)

(or, perhaps reversing the 4th and 5th slots)

which is exactly as it was envisioned during spring training. It appears possible that Alex Gonzalez may also return after the break, which means (in addition to the fact that when he returns, you can wave bye-bye to Rey Ordonez, probably forever) that a week from Thursday, July 15 at home against the Brewers, in the 88th game of the season, the Cubs can put their projected Opening Day 25-man roster out there for the first time.