CHICAGO - Aramis Ramirez went from disgusted to delighted as the Chicago Cubs mounted an improbable comeback off Milwaukee closer Francisco Cordero to win their seventh straight game.
Ramirez hit a two-out, two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth as the Cubs rallied for three in the final inning and a 6-5 win Friday over the first-place Brewers.
In the seventh with two runners on, Ramirez struck out against Matt Wise to end the inning and slammed his bat down at the plate.
"I should put the ball in play at least,'' Ramirez said. "I knew I was going to have another chance and I came through.''
The NL Central-leading Brewers took a 5-0 lead in the first inning. They still led 5-3 going into the ninth before Alfonso Soriano and Mike Fontenot singled with one out off Cordero (0-2), the major league saves leader with 27.
After Derrek Lee hit a sacrifice fly, Ramirez lined the next pitch into the left-center field bleachers for his 15th homer, setting off a wild celebration at Wrigley Field.
"Even though we fell behind 5-0 in the first inning we never gave up. The bullpen did a great job and gave us a chance to come back and we did,'' Ramirez said.
"This is the team we have to beat, Milwaukee, and try to get close. … When we win the game and I come in, everybody is jumping around because that was pretty special - the way we win and we beat the first-place team.''
It was Cordero's third blown save in 30 chances. Bob Howry (5-4) pitched one inning and got the win.
"This is a really tough loss,'' Cordero said. "Every time you hang a pitch it's going a long ways, especially a slider. He's a pretty good hitter. He got it on the sweet spot of the bat and it went a long way. It's not the first time it happened and it won't be the last time that it happens.''
The Brewers lost for just the third time in 15 games. Kevin Mench hit a three-run homer in the first and with rookie Yovani Gallardo pitching six solid innings, it looked like Milwaukee would build on its NL Central lead.
But Chicago's comeback pulled the Cubs to within 6½ games. It also got them back to .500 for the first time since May 10.
"We've been slowly playing better baseball,'' manager Lou Piniella said. "But let's not get crazy. There is a long season ahead of us.''
But with only one more series left against the Brewers after the current one, the Cubs know they have to do well in the head-to-head meetings.
"They are a pretty good team and if anybody can bounce back from a game like that, it's Milwaukee. They've been in first all year,'' said Ramirez, who came off the disabled list a week ago (patellar tendinitis).
The Brewers couldn't add on after their big first inning. Still, they felt comfortable going to the ninth with the wind blowing in and Cordero on the mound. Cordero saved 22 straight at the beginning of the season.
"Even with two outs, you figure you're in good shape,'' Milwaukee manager Ned Yost said. "Every once in a while something like that happens.''
In the first, J.J. Hardy drew a one-out walk, Ryan Braun singled and Rich Hill plunked Prince Fielder with a pitch to load the bases.
Bill Hall blooped an RBI single in front of right fielder Cliff Floyd, Johnny Estrada hit a sacrifice fly and Mench lined a drive over the wall in right.
Hill, who has one win in his last 10 starts, lasted just three innings. The Brewers consistently hit foul balls and made Hill throw 92 pitches - 45 in the first - matching his shortest outing of the season.
Gallardo, in his third major league start and first on the road, gave up a pair of runs in the fourth. Lee opened with a walk and Ramirez doubled.
When Floyd hit a bouncer to Fielder at first, Lee hesitated between third and home. But Fielder got tangled up with Gallardo before tagging Floyd, allowing Lee to sprint across the plate. Ramirez scored on Gallardo's wild pitch to make it 5-2.
The Cubs added a run in the seventh against reliever Carlos Villanueva. Felix Pie led off with a walk and pinch-hitter Angel Pagan singled. After Soriano struck out for the third time, Fontenot delivered an RBI single. Ramirez struck out to end the inning
Notes: Mench drew a walk in the sixth inning and that was a rarity. Before Friday's game, he had just one walk all season in 161 plate appearances and that was an intentional one April 4. … The announced crowd of 41,909 marked the largest of the season at Wrigley.