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Milwaukee grabs 12th win in 13 games

CHICAGO (AP) -- Maybe the Chicago Cubs should stop worrying about
gaining ground on St. Louis and Houston and start paying attention
to the once-lowly Milwaukee Brewers.

Doug Davis extended his stellar run for the Brewers, scattering
five hits and pitching into the ninth inning Sunday, and Jason
Conti made a sliding, game-ending catch with the bases loaded to
preserve a 2-0 victory over the Cubs.

It was the 12th victory in 13 games for Milwaukee, which had a
10-game winning streak snapped Friday. The Brewers won their fourth
straight series, the first time they've managed that since August
1996.

"We were playing a hot club, and they did everything right,"
Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "We know our hot time is going to
come."

It better come soon. The Cubs go into the final month of the
season having lost four of their last five, including two to
Milwaukee. They're 2{ games behind NL Central leader St. Louis, and
3{ back in a wild-card race that's bunched up tighter than the
postgame traffic outside Wrigley Field.

"We're playing plenty hard, we're just not getting results,"
Baker said. "We're 2{ out with a month to go. I'd rather be 2{ up,
but 2{ out, hey, we can make that up in three days."

Especially with the Cardinals coming to town Monday for a
five-game series that includes a day-night doubleheader on Tuesday.

"That's all you can do is hope the games in September mean
something," Eric Karros said. "And they obviously do here."

But if the Cubs want to stay in the pennant race, they're going
to have to start hitting -- something they couldn't do against
Davis.

Davis (2-0) spent most of the first half of the season with
Toronto, going 4-6 with a 5.00 ERA. Designated for assignment on
July 10, he opted for free agency and the Brewers signed him.

The move couldn't have worked out better for either the Brewers
or Davis. He's won his last two starts, giving up just an unearned
run, and his ERA in four starts with Milwaukee is 0.95.

"It's just opportunity, I guess," Brewers manager Ned Yost
said. "Maybe he's just found his place where he is comfortable.
He's got confidence in himself."

Davis faced only three over the minimum and never allowed a
runner past first in the first eight innings. The left-hander
walked two and struck out five, and the Brewers turned four double
plays to end any chance the Cubs might have had.

"I'm not an overpowering pitcher, so I've got to rely on the
team to make the plays, and they made all of them today," Davis
said. "I just work down in the zone and get a lot of groundballs,
and I did that."

The only time things got scary was after Davis left, lifted with
one out in the ninth after giving up a single to Ramon Martinez.
Dan Kolb relieved and promptly gave up a single to Sammy Sosa, and
an error by Conti put runners at second and third.

Kolb struck out Moises Alou, then walked Aramis Ramirez to load
the bases. Karros followed with a liner that looked as if it might
drop in shallow right.

"When I hit it, I thought I had a good shot," Karros said.

But Conti slid, stretching out his glove and snagging the ball,
prompting a loud groan from the standing Wrigley Field crowd.

"I didn't really know I was going to catch it until I caught
it," said Conti, brought in as a defensive replacement in the
eighth inning. "As soon as that ball is hit, (Ramirez) is running
from first base. He's got a big lead because Richie (Sexson) is not
holding him on. It was basically go catch it or it's going to get
by.

"I don't know if that's do-or-die," Conti added, "but it's
close."

Kolb earned his 14th save in 15 chances. He has converted 14
opportunities in a row, one shy of the Brewers' NL record, set by
Bob Wickman in 1998.

Keith Ginter had a sacrifice fly in the first inning to back
Davis, and Sexson added an RBI double in the sixth.

Juan Cruz, recalled from Triple-A Iowa before the game, allowed
two runs and six hits in 5 1-3 innings. Cruz (1-5) struck out six,
walked one, threw a wild pitch and hit a batter.

"Our pitching is doing well, we're just not scoring runs,"
Cubs catcher Damian Miller said. "I wish I had the answer to
overcome that, but I don't. Just keep swinging."

Game notes
The Brewers went 16-12 in August, their first winning month
since May 2001. ... The Cubs lost only their second Sunday game
since the All-Star break. ... The Cubs dropped to 33-34 at Wrigley
Field.