Ben Sheets came off the disabled list to give the sagging Milwaukee Brewers a lift, and Ryan Braun hit a bases-loaded double during a four-run seventh inning Wednesday night in a 6-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs.
With just their fourth win in the last 15 games, the Brewers moved within 1½ games of the first-place Cubs in the NL Central. The Brewers jumped over the Cardinals into second place after St. Louis lost to the Astros 7-0 on Wednesday night.
Sheets (11-4) worked six innings, allowing six hits and a run to get his first win since June 30 as Milwaukee kept Chicago right-hander Carlos Zambrano winless over the last month.
Sheets was activated before the game. He'd been on the DL since July 16 with a sprained finger on his pitching hand and had also been slowed by a blister. But he made 85 pitches Wednesday night and showed why he is the ace of the Brewers' staff.
Zambrano (14-11), meanwhile, has not looked like Chicago's No. 1 starter.
He has now tried six times to get his 15th victory -- he has four losses, a no-decision when he had to leave a game with heat cramping and another start that was rained out after three innings.
He is winless since signing a five-year, $91.5 million contract on Aug. 17 and hasn't won since July 29. In 6 1/3 innings Wednesday night, he gave up nine hits and six runs -- five earned.
The Brewers moved ahead in the fifth. After Zambrano hit Rickie Weeks with a pitch for the second time in the game with two outs, Gabe Gross hit an RBI double to right center and the Brewers went up 2-1.
Braun's two-run double in the seventh came after the Brewers nearly tripped up during their big rally.
Weeks singled and Gross reached on a fielder's choice and error when Chicago shortstop Ryan Theriot couldn't catch second baseman Mark DeRosa's flip after a grounder, putting runners at first and second.
But when Prince Fielder dumped a single into left center that would certainly have scored the speedy Weeks, he fell over third base and had to scramble back to the bag, leaving the bases loaded.
But Braun picked up Weeks and the Brewers by lacing a double into the left field corner to make it 4-1 and finish Zambrano. Geoff Jenkins then greeted reliever Scott Eyre with a two-run single.
Aramis Ramirez's bases-loaded sacrifice fly gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead in the third.
Fielder doubled leading off the fourth and the Brewers tied it on Corey Hart's two-out triple into the right field corner