Benes beats Brewers in bid to join Cubs' rotation

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Alan Benes wasn't overwhelming his opponents in
the minor leagues.

He was more than up to the task against Milwaukee, pitching 5 1/3 shutout innings in his first major league start since last September to help the Chicago Cubs beat the Brewers 6-2 Tuesday night.

"Last year, I was disappointed to only get one start in early September and never got to pitch much after that,'' Benes said. "I was really excited to find out I was going to get a start here.

"I'll, hopefully, get the opportunity to start some more games. We'll have to see what happens, but it' a definite possibility.''

Benes, 30, had made just one major league start since 1997, beating Los Angeles 6-5 on Sept. 8 last year. He had been sidelined by a pair of shoulder operations.

He was at Triple-A Iowa until he was brought up Friday, going 10-9 with a 5.65 ERA in 19 starts and nine relief appearances.

"It almost doesn't seem like it's been that long,'' Benes said. "I was excited and couldn't wait for the night to come. As it turns out, we came out and had a good game. Everything kind of fell into place.''

"He showed a little bit of his trademark of being a very good fundamental pitcher,'' Chicago manager Bruce Kimm said.

Against the Brewers, he allowed five hits and four walks, striking out six. He left after giving up two walks and a single in the sixth inning.

"He had good stuff. He had the ball moving and we couldn't hit it,'' said Milwaukee's Eric Young, who stole two bases to become only the 39th player to reach 400.

"I thought he did a great job and made some quality pitches when he had to,'' Milwaukee manager Jerry Royster said.

Angel Echevarria had three hits for the Cubs, who had scored eight runs in their previous six games. Chicago had been 2-10 against the Brewers this season.

Rookie Jimmy Osting (0-2) gave up five runs and eight hits in 3 1/3 innings. The 25-year-old left-hander has lasted a total of 12 innings in three starts, and has a 7.50 ERA.

Fred McGriff hit an RBI single in the first, and Richie Sexson's throwing error at first helped the Cubs to a three-run third, with one of the runs unearned.

With runners at first and second, Sexson fielded McGriff's
grounder and his throw to second was in the dirt, allowing Chicago
to load the bases. Chris Stynes followed with an infield roller for
an RBI single and Alex Gonzalez hit a two-run single for a 4-0

Echevarria, playing against his former teammates for the first
time, singled and scored on Moises Alou's double to make it 5-0 in
the fourth. Echevarria, who became a free agent after last season
and signed with Chicago's Triple-A Iowa team, hit a sacrifice fly
in the sixth.

Jose Hernandez singled in the sixth, but Echevarria easily threw
out Sexson at the plate from right field. Reliever Joe Borowski
relieved Benes with two on and walked Mark Loretta, loading the
bases. He escaped when he retired Paul Bako on a liner to third and
Lenny Harris on a grounder to shortstop.

Sexson hit an RBI double in the seventh, and Jorge Fabregas had an RBI single in the ninth off Antonio Alfonseca.

"Anytime we make any mistake, it's magnified because we're not
hitting,'' Royster said.

Game notes
The Cubs played without Sammy Sosa (strained muscle in neck) for the third straight game. ... RHP Nick Neugebauer, who
made his fifth start Tuesday in a rehab assignment at Triple-A
Indianapolis, is to rejoin the Brewers if there is no strike. ...
LHP Glendon Rusch, who is to start for the Brewers on Wednesday, is
2-0 this year and 5-1 in his career against the Cubs.