"That's a good feeling, when the guys put up five runs and I haven't even taken the mound," said Looper (7-4). "There's also some pressure, too. You want to make that stand, because that doesn't happen a lot."
Looper did make it stand, escaping bases-loaded jams in each of the first two innings on the way to his second straight win. He limited the Cubs to two runs -- on Milton Bradley's homer in the third -- over six innings.
Brewers hitters did the rest of the heavy lifting. They were 4-for-22 with runners in scoring position while losing the first two games of the series but collected three clutch hits in the first three innings against Chicago starter Rich Harden (5-5). Harden intentionally walked Fielder in the first inning to load the bases for McGehee, who delivered a two-run single. Cameron was up next, and he hammered a three-run home run, his 14th, for a quick 5-0 lead.
J.J. Hardy led off the second inning with a solo home run, and Cameron made it 7-0 in the third when he followed McGehee's triple with an RBI double. Both hits might have been outs, but Bradley missed a leaping catch on McGehee's ball and left fielder Alfonso Soriano misjudged Cameron's line drive, which sailed over his head.
Cameron batted again with a runner in scoring position and fewer than two outs in the fourth inning and drew a walk. Entering the game, he was just 2-for-35 (.057) in that situation.
"Everybody's motto against us is, 'Don't let the big guy hurt you,' and that's Prince," Cameron said. "That's what [Cubs starter Carlos] Zambrano said yesterday. If we're able to punch across runs and continue the progress of the lineup, it makes us that more deep and dangerous."
McGehee has contributed to that depth by solidifying the five-hole behind Fielder. He went 4-for-5 with five RBIs in a career-best performance, matched his career high with three runs scored and had a chance in the eighth inning to become the sixth player in Brewers history to hit for the cycle.
He came up short.
"What are you talking about? I had a double," McGehee joked, "a double play."
Sorry, but a double-play grounder to second base doesn't count.
"It would have been cool," McGehee said. "I would be lying if I said I wasn't aware of it. You can't try to place it. You just try to hit it hard, and unfortunately, I hit it hard right at a guy."
McGehee's big day came at the expense of his former employer. He was the Cubs' 10th round Draft pick in 2003 and rose to Triple-A Iowa by last season, when he drove in in 92 runs. But the Cubs waived him in October and the Brewers gobbled him up, and after winning a bench job in Spring Training McGehee has emerged as an everyday starter over the past two weeks.
If it meant anything to have the best game of his career against the franchise that asked him to hit the road, McGehee wouldn't admit it.
"I think it would have been just as enjoyable no matter who it was against," he said. "I'm still trying to make my way with this organization and this club. I don't really have the luxury of thinking about the opponent."
Each of the top seven batters in the Brewers' order had at least one hit. McGehee led the way with four, including two run-scoring singles that immediately followed intentional walks to Fielder. Hardy, Cameron, Ryan Braun and Corey Hart had two hits apiece.
"They've got a dynamic offense and a lot of sluggers on that team," Bradley said. "You can hold them down for a little while but eventually they'll break through, and today was one of those days."
Looper described his own outing as "one of those days." He knew in his pregame warmup that his fastball command was missing.
"That's probably as bad as I've felt on the mound in a while," Looper said. "I was battling myself the whole time, mechanically. I was just able to make a few good pitches when I needed to, and the guys made some nice plays behind me."
They missed some, too. Right fielder Hart dropped what should have been an inning-ending flyout in the first inning. Looper then walked Bradley and surrendered a Jake Fox single to load the bases. Looper escaped by retiring Soriano, who was dropped from first to sixth in the Cubs' order and went 0-for-4. McGehee's error in the third inning put Looper in another pickle, but he induced one of three double plays.
"I was happy with how I was able to limit the damage," Looper said. "I pitched differently. I used a lot of cutters today because the command of my fastball and my 'split' wasn't as good as it has been. I mixed it up the best I could."
The Brewers will try to even the four-game series in Sunday's afternoon finale.