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MIL@CHC: Castro hammers a solo homer in the sixth

CHICAGO -- Starlin Castro has said he wants to collect his 200th hit of the season at home, and he's three hits shy heading into the Cubs' finale Wednesday at Wrigley Field.

Castro smacked a solo homer, his 10th, and set a modern-day franchise record for most hits by a Cubs player in his first two years with the team Tuesday, but that wasn't enough to stop the Brewers.

Shaun Marcum picked up his 13th win and helped himself when he doubled and scored on Corey Hart's double in a four-run third to lead the Brewers to a 5-1 victory over the Cubs. Milwaukee's magic number to clinch the National League Central is now three.

Castro, who hit three homers in 125 games his rookie season last year, provided the Cubs highlight with his leadoff homer in the sixth. It was the 336th hit of his career, the most by a Cubs player in his first two years. Glenn Beckert had 335 hits in 1965-66.

Castro now leads the National League with 197 hits, and extended his streak of reaching base to 33 consecutive games. It's the second longest streak by a Cubs shortstop, trailing only Woody English, who had a 34-game streak in 1929. Castro is the first Cubs player to reach safely in 33 in a row since Jerome Walton had a 43-game streak in 1989.

"I was hoping he gets 200 hits here at home," Aramis Ramirez said. "He still has one game tomorrow and he's got three hits to go. Hopefully, he'll come out tomorrow and have a good game and do it in front of the home crowd."

Whether it will be Ramirez's last game as a Cubs player remains to be seen. The Cubs have a $16 million option for next season, and after Tuesday's game, the third baseman said he hasn't heard anything from the team about whether they want him back.

"My agent's in town, but we haven't heard from anybody," Ramirez said. "I think we're ready to move on."

Milwaukee sent eight batters to the plate in the third. Marcum and Hart hit back-to-back doubles, with the pitcher scoring to take a 1-0 lead. Nyjer Morgan followed with an RBI single and then stole second and moved up on a throwing error by catcher Geovany Soto. Ryan Braun singled to drive in Morgan, and one out later, he scored on Rickie Weeks' single for a 4-0 lead.

"It was just a culmination of things," said Cubs starter Randy Wells, upset that he served up Marcum's double and the snowball effect it had. "I think the biggest mistake I made was I kind of got stubborn and went away from what me and [Soto] had talked about. I thought I made a good pitch to Corey Hart, I had him set up and tried to go up and away and put him away, and he put the barrel of the bat on the ball.

"Nyjer Morgan looped a hit in there and then Braun, I just made a bad pitch up in the zone, and the guy can flat out hit. Next thing you know, it kept going and going."

Morgan singled to lead off the fifth, moved up on two wild pitches by Wells, and eventually scored when Weeks hit into a fielder's choice.

Marcum (13-7) struck out seven and scattered five hits over eight innings for the win.

"It's nasty," Morgan said of the Brewers' right-hander. "That ball was moving today. It was real sharp, late. Like Marlon Byrd, a great hitter, he could hardly pick it up. [Marcum] pitched a great game there, and the S.W.A.T. team was there, too, to put some runs up on the board for him."

The S.W.A.T. team is Morgan's nickname for the Brewers' offense.

"When everything is going right, it's a beautiful thing to watch," Morgan said.

Everything went wrong for Wells (7-5) in the fourth. He gave up five runs on six hits over five innings. It's his first defeat since July 28; he entered the game 5-0 in his last nine starts.

"He just couldn't control the damage," Cubs manager Mike Quade said. "He's been pitching well, and in some of his starts he's been able to do that, and he wasn't able to do that tonight."

"My command kind of failed me there [in the third]," Wells said. "I kind of pressed a little bit and made some bad pitches."

Back to Castro. He has a chance to celebrate No. 200 at home.

"If we all got what we wished for all the time, it'd be some kind of season," Quade said. "What's he need four? Three? I'll take 3-for-3 with a walk, or maybe 3-for-5 with a walk. He put a good swing on that ball tonight."

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