Brewers top Cubs in Wrigley thriller



CHICAGO – The start of the Cubs’ 100th season since winning the World Series ended like so many seasons at Wrigley Field – with a loss.

Tony Gwynn hit a sacrifice fly in the 10th inning, and the Milwaukee Brewers beat Chicago 4-3 Monday.

Kosuke Fukudome went 3-for-3, hitting a tying, three-run homer in the ninth off Eric Gagne (1-0), but it wasn’t enough for the Cubs, who haven’t even reached the World Series since 1945.

Pinch-hitter Craig Counsell opened the 10th with a double off Bob Howry (0-1) and moved up on a sacrifice. After Rickie Weeks was hit by a pitch for the second straight inning, Gwynn delivered the go-ahead fly. David Riske pitched the bottom of the 10th for the save.

Milwaukee’s Ben Sheets and Chicago’s Carlos Zambrano pitched shutout ball, the Cubs ace forced out in the seventh because of a forearm cramp.

The Brewers went ahead in the ninth off Kerry Wood. Ryan Braun hit an RBI single before falling down coming out of the batter’s box, and Corey Hart’s two-run double made it 3-0.

Chicago honored Ernie Banks by unveiling a statue of him in front of Wrigley Field on a wet afternoon. The game was delayed by 41 minutes at the start and another 49 minutes in the bottom of the third.

Fukudome excited the crowd of 41,089 when he doubled on his first major league pitch, then singled, walked and homered. Gagne gave up a leadoff single to Derrek Lee and walked Aramis Ramirez before Fukudome’s drive into the right-center field bleachers.

Zambrano allowed three hits in 6 2-3 innings and Sheets gave up two in 6 1-3 innings – both by Fukudome.

Because of the 100th anniversary, even more attention has been focused on the Cubs’ travails.

“How do I view it? … It’s not something I came up with, believe me,” Cubs manager Lou Piniella said before the game. “It seems rather improbable. I mean a long time.”