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Burns lit up as Brewers drop series

Burns lit up as Brewers drop series

CHICAGO -- The Brewers still lead in the standings, but the Cubs were the better team this weekend.

They were certainly better on Sunday, when Brewers starter Mike Burns was roughed up for seven runs on the way to an 8-2 loss at Wrigley Field. Cubs left-hander Ted Lilly won for the first time in five starts by tossing 6 1/3 quality innings, and Chicago took the series, 3-1.

In a candid moment, newly minted Brewers All-Star Ryan Braun said the Cubs were simply better.

"Their starting pitching is a lot better than ours," Braun said. "They threw the ball a lot better than our starters did, and they swung the bats better than we did as well. Clearly, they were the better team. It's nice to get one win, but they clearly outperformed us in this series."

Braun, named along with Prince Fielder (and Lilly) to the National League All-Star team earlier in the day, wasn't finished.

"We're at the point right now where it would be important for us to go out there and acquire somebody," Braun said. "I think [Brewers officials] would be more inclined to do that if we're winning."

The Brewers lost for the fourth time in five games and fell to second place in the National League Central, a game behind St. Louis. They begin a six-game homestand against the Cardinals on Tuesday, followed by the Dodgers, who lead the NL West.

Burns (1-2) was coming off his first Major League win five days earlier, but he was ineffective in his third Brewers start. He surrendered seven runs without escaping the fifth inning on nine hits, including Derrek Lee's two-run homer in the first inning and Jake Fox's two-run shot in the fifth.

"I got my brains beat in, pretty much," Burns said. "I felt good. I felt better today than I did in my first two starts. I made a couple of bad pitches with my slider and got beat."

Starting pitching has been a problem for the Brewers of late. Manager Ken Macha will meet with general manager Doug Melvin on Tuesday to set the rotation for the final week before the All-Star break.

"We have to look at the positive things," Macha said. "We're going back home, and we have a big series with the Cardinals. We had 41 hits in these four games here in Chicago. We've been swinging the bats a lot better. Our starting pitchers, up until today, had been five out of six in terms of quality starts. So there are positive things going into the series with St. Louis, and we have to put these games here behind us."

Fielder had two hits including a two-out solo home run in the fourth inning that briefly cut the deficit to 2-1. Casey McGehee finished a productive series with three hits, including an RBI single off Lilly in the sixth inning.

But Lilly, the lone Cubs All-Star, was otherwise effective. He scattered nine hits and struck out nine without walking a batter.

"One of the things that enabled me to do that was that we had a little bit of a cushion," Lilly said. "I'm going to be a little more aggressive in those situations knowing that the last thing you want to do when you have a lead like that is give guys free passes."

The Brewers won't see the Cubs again until Sept. 14-17, again at Wrigley Field.

"It's disappointing," Fielder said of the series loss, "but they're a good team. You can't get too mad about it. That's how it is sometimes; they're a good team and they play even better here [at Wrigley Field]. Sometimes you have to tip your cap."

Braun wasn't so eager to tip his cap.

"We need to find a way to throw the ball a little better to have success," Braun said. "When you're constantly behind in games, it's not easy. It's not fun. Their starting pitching was clearly a lot better than ours this series."

Does Braun think Melvin would be able to make a deal before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline?

"I wish I got to make decisions like that," Braun said. "I know he's looking to make our ballclub better. I know he recognizes the importance of making a move and making it soon, but at the same time a lot of teams are in the race and there aren't a lot of teams willing to give guys up. If they do, the asking price is high.

"That being said, it would be nice to make a move. It would be nice to do something to help us out for the time being. The sooner we do it, the better."

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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