Brewers overcome Sheets' departure, end 5-game losing streak

CHICAGO -- For one game, the Milwaukee Brewers got by minus Ben Sheets.

Beyond that, who knows?

The All-Star righty left after two innings because of a tender elbow but the Brewers, boosted by Prince Fielder's three-run double, beat the Chicago Cubs 6-2 Wednesday night to end a five-game losing streak.

The Brewers stayed a half-game behind New York in the NL wild-card race. Now they have to wonder if Sheets can pitch again over the final 10 games.

"It's been so up and down that I would think it's very possible," Sheets said. "There's been really good days and really bad days. There's been days where it's hard to move it and it's stiff. Then the next day it's great. So we'll see."

Fielder's big hit in the first inning off Jason Marquis (10-9) sent the Brewers toward their first victory under interim manager Dale Sveum. They won for only the fourth time in 16 games -- it was Sveum's second game since replacing the fired Ned Yost.

The Cubs had won five in a row. Their magic number for clinching the NL Central remained at four.

"You think you have the advantage when you see Sheets leaving in the second inning and you get to their bullpen early," Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez said. "But it didn't happen tonight. ... It doesn't matter how many games we need to clinch. You can't win every day. They threw the ball well."

Sheets said he began to feel some discomfort in the bottom of the first when he faced Derrek Lee, the Cubs' No. 3 hitter. The injury was originally announced as a tight right forearm.

"It hurts. It wasn't making me nervous. It was the lack of ability to make pitches," Sheets said.

"I don't know what happened today. My elbow has been bothering me for a while now," he said. "I started feeling it tug and it was in my elbow."

Asked if it was his forearm or his elbow causing the discomfort, Sheets said: "They kind of go together. But it's definitely my elbow. We got an MRI already earlier and it's not anything structural."

Sheets said he got the MRI exam about a week and a half ago after initially feeling discomfort when he pitched at St. Louis on Aug. 26. He said the elbow had been feeling better and responding to treatment, but Wednesday night "it kind of went backwards."

Sheets, who entered the game with a 13-8 record, has dealt with numerous injuries throughout his career, including groin and triceps problems this year. The only hit he allowed was a leadoff homer to Ramirez in the second that cut Milwaukee's lead to 3-1.

"When one of your best pitchers is sore and can't get loose, human nature, of course you worry about somebody going out there for that," Sveum said.

"He's OK. We'll find out a little more as the rest of the week goes on."

Sheets was replaced by Mark DiFelice (1-0), who pitched two innings for his first major league win. Milwaukee used seven relievers in all and the bullpen didn't give up a run until the ninth.

Fielder, who homered twice and then struck out with two runners on to end the Brewers' 5-4 loss Tuesday night, lined a bases-loaded double into the right-field corner in the first. Mike Cameron's leadoff single and walks to Ray Durham and Ryan Braun had filled the bases for the Brewers.

Fielder continued his tear against the Cubs, going 3-for-4. In the two games so far at Wrigley Field, he is 6-for-9 with three doubles, the two homers and six RBIs.

"I'm just trying to see it and hit it. I'm not trying to make it too difficult," Fielder said. "I think as a team when you start struggling you try to make things a little more serious than they really are. So I'm just trying to make it simple."

The Brewers added three runs in the seventh off reliever Angel Guzman. Braun walked, Fielder singled, J.J. Hardy hit an RBI double and Corey Hart followed with a two-run single.

Marquis, who hadn't pitched in 11 days, had some control issues. He lasted 5 1/3 innings and was pulled after walking two batters and throwing a wild pitch in the sixth. He walked five and gave up six hits.

Game notes
The Brewers will start RHP Dave Bush on Thursday on three days' rest. Sveum said Wednesday that the other starting pitchers may have to do the same. ... Cubs RF Kosuke Fukudome was out of the starting lineup for a fifth straight game and could stay benched unless he picks up his hitting. The NL All-Star's average has dropped to .259.