CHICAGO -- Acting Brewers skipper Dale Sveum said Thursday morning that he would manage every day like it's a playoff game, and that's exactly what he did that afternoon. Unfortunately, had this been the opener of a playoff series, the Brewers would be in a 1-0 hole. Sveum called on his closer with a four-run lead in the ninth inning, and then used his next day's starter in the 10th, signs that he's going for broke as the Brewers bid to win a spot in the postseason for the first time in 26 years. But they came up empty in a 7-6, 12-inning loss to the Cubs at Wrigley Field that pushed them another step closer to playing golf instead of baseball in October. Salomon Torres shouldered the blame for the Brewers' 13th loss in 17 games this month after he surrendered four runs, all with two outs in a stunning bottom of the ninth inning. He didn't get any help from left fielder Ryan Braun, who missed a knuckling line drive that would have ended the game had it been caught. After that play, Torres allowed three more hits, including Geovany Soto's game-tying, three-run home run.
"You saw what happened," Torres said. "Personally, I believe it was my fault. I should have sealed the deal. I feel like I let the team down. This game humbles you very quickly, so what can you do?" Torres is 26-for-31 in save opportunities with a 2.54 ERA since taking over from Eric Gagne as the Brewers' closer and has been one of the team's success stories this season. He was the fourth Brewers reliever to work on Thursday, and he retired Ryan Theriot and Derrek Lee to open the ninth inning. Aramis Ramirez followed with a sinking line drive that skipped under Braun's glove for a double. He scored on Jim Edmonds' single, and Mark DeRosa also singled before Soto delivered the big blow, a home run to left-center that knotted the game at 6. "I made a mistake," Torres said. "I was trying to get ahead, leading by four runs, but those strikes were too high. They were not quality pitches." Torres' tough day forced Sveum to summon right-hander Seth McClung, who was supposed to return to the starting rotation on Friday in Cincinnati. Instead, McClung delivered two scoreless innings, allowing one hit before he was replaced by a pinch-hitter in the top of the 12th, when Milwaukee had runners at second and third base with no outs but did not score. The Cubs rallied for a run on two walks and a single by Lee to win the game in the bottom of the inning. "Nobody is real happy about it," McClung said. "'Solly' [Torres] has done such a great job all year, and it stinks. We just can't let it happen tomorrow. We have to put it out of our minds, go to Cincinnati and take care of business." How did he change his mindset from starting Friday to suddenly pitching Thursday? "It's just a mindset, you have to be ready to go," McClung said. "You're in a situation that it's so late [in the season] that you have to be prepared to go whenever. I'm ready to suck it up and go [Friday] if they need me. I'll volunteer myself, because we're stretched out." McClung figures to see action in Cincinnati this weekend even if he does not start. The Brewers bumped up Jeff Suppan to start Friday and for the moment have not named a starter for Saturday. CC Sabathia is currently lined up to pitch Sunday. That could change depending on the outcome of Friday's game. If Sveum were to decide to start Sabathia on short rest Saturday, McClung would be one of the bullpen arms likely cobbled together for Sunday. Thursday's loss left the Brewers 1 1/2 games behind the Mets and two games behind the NL East-leading Phillies in the race for the National League Wild Card. Torres believes the Brewers have one more bounce-back left. "You've seen what we've done all year long," he said. "People think these guys are out, they're done. We find a way to bounce back and to get our momentum going. It seems like it was heading that way today, especially after the win [Wednesday]. "That's the nature of this game. You have to keep fighting. There's no time for us to let our guard down or think in a negative way. We still have some games to go. We're still pretty much in this race."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.