MILWAUKEE (Ticker) --
hit a two-run homer in the first inning and the
won for the fifth time in six games, 4-2, over the
Since losing two of three games against the Brewers to fall 2 1/2 games back in the National League Central Division, the Cubs have surged, opening play on Friday one-half game behind the
. Chicago has won all five games it has played at Miller Park this season.
"We play them better here," Cubs manager
said. "I don't know what it is. You don't feel like you're at an away game, more of a secondary home game."
One of the reasons that Baker feels that way is that among the 42,909 fans, there were a sizable portion rooting for the Cubs.
"You never get used to it," Chicago catcher
said. "Even when I was playing against (the Cubs), the support all over is ridiculous."
gave those traveling Cubs fans fans something to cheer about by leading off the game with an infield single and
flied out to right field. Sosa then crushed an offering from
(11-11), ripping his 33rd homer of the season high over the center field fence.
"Every time I make contact like that, I know the ball's going out of the ballpark," said Sosa, who immediately broke into his trademark hop immediately after the swing.
The Brewers cut the Cubs' lead to 2-1 in the bottom of the first, when
drove in his 106th run of the season with a groundout.
Chicago built its lead back to two runs in the third, when Grudzielanek doubled to extend his hitting streak to 10 games, took third on a single by Sosa, and scored on a grounder by
Grudzielanek manufactured a run in the eighth, when he walked, stole second, went to third on a throwing error by
and scored on a wild pitch by Brewers reliever
"We scored just enough runs to win," Baker said. "But that run in the eighth was huge."
Osik was at the center of some craziness in the second inning when he was supposed to hit, but shortstop Billy Hall went to the plate instead. After one pitch from Cubs starter
, Osik assumed his proper place, and the inning continued with no penalty to the Brewers.
Cruz (2-5) picked up his first win as a starter this season. The righthander allowed two runs and three hits in 6 2/3 innings, striking out six and walking two.
"He gave us a chance to win," Miller said. "He hit his spots."
Cruz, whose other victory this season came in relief at San Francisco on May 1, had not won as a starter since May 21, 2002.
"He pitched great today and we played great today," Sosa said. "We're in September and still have a chance to win the division, which hasn't happened very often in Chicago."
Sheets settled down after his early struggles, allowing three runs and six hits in seven innings. The righthander, who has lost five straight decisions, struck out four and walked one.
"The first inning killed me," Sheets said. "I never recovered. I thought I was as locked in from the fourth to the seventh as I have been all year. I'm not disappointed with the way I threw the ball, but what can I do?"
Sheets also allowed three runs in seven innings last Friday against the Cubs, a game the Brewers lost 4-2. In a seven-start winless streak, Sheets is 0-5 with a 5.81 ERA.
"Besides the home run, I thought he pitched great," Brewers manager
said. "Sammy hit it pretty good, and besides that he was fantastic."
The Brewers had their nine-game winning streak in night games snapped.