All Alfonso Soriano's three-run double in the eighth inning Saturday night accomplished was to make the Cubs' 6-4 loss to the Brewers appear closer than it really was.
After Milwaukee's three-run first inning off Ryan Dempster, the outcome of the game was never truly in doubt. Dempster had one of his worst outings of the year, giving up seven hits and two walks in four innings and taking 89 pitches to record 12 outs. The Cubs are now 1-7 in Milwaukee this year and have been outscored 45-24 in the eight games.
The Brewers are now an otherworldly 49-16 at home. That puts them on pace to win 61 home games. Only four teams (1961 and 1998 Yankees, 1962 Giants and 1975 Reds) have won that many games at home since the 162-game schedule was instituted 50 years ago. The cautionary tale for Brewers fans is that their road record (31-38) isn't that much better than the Cubs' road mark (25-39). Milwaukee, roaring toward the NL Central title, will likely have home field against the Braves, who appear to be headed toward the wild card. But if they lose just one home game, they could be headed for a quick playoff exit. (The best home record for a Cubs team in the expansion era is 55-26, in 2008.)
What more can be said about a game like this one? Not a heck of a lot. The Brewers hit three home runs (Corey Hart, Casey McGehee and Prince Fielder). The Cubs didn't. When the Cubs had a shot at getting back into the game in the seventh inning, they left the bases loaded. Sound familiar?
I don't have a lot more to say about Saturday night's game, so let me mention that Justin Verlander of the Tigers won his 20th game of the season on Saturday. He's the first pitcher to register his 20th win in August since Curt Schilling did so for the 2002 Diamondbacks, and was the first Tigers pitcher to accomplish that since Mickey Lolich in 1971.
The last Cubs pitcher to win his 20th game in August was Fergie Jenkins, also in 1971, the year he won his only Cy Young Award. In those four-man rotation days, Fergie made nine more starts after that 20th win, on August 20, 1971 against the Astros. He went 4-3 to finish 24-13.
Of course, starting pitcher wins don't mean what they used to; since Jenkins won 24 games in 1971, only three Cubs have won 20 games: Rick Reuschel in 1977, Greg Maddux in 1992 and Jon Lieber in 2001, all winning exactly 20. We seem so far from a Cubs pitcher being at that level.
I'm rambling, I know. And dreaming. This bad dream of a season continues in Milwaukee today. The game preview will post at 11:30 a.m. CDT.