Ninth-inning rally comes up short for Cubs

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Ninth-inning rally comes up short for Cubs

Aramis Ramirez drove in two runs in his return to Wrigley Field, Ryan Braun got booed relentlessly and the Milwaukee Brewers hung on to beat the Chicago Cubs 7-5 on Monday night.The Brewers were sailing along with a four-run lead going into the ninth when things got real interesting. The Cubs scored two runs and had the bases loaded when John Axford struck out Starlin Castro looking on three pitches to end the game.Axford came in with runners on first and third with one out, and Ramirez immediately booted Marlon Byrd's grounder to third, allowing one run to score. A pinch-hitting Steve Clevenger drove a run-scoring single to center that Carlos Gomez misplayed, putting runners on second and third and making it a two-run game.After David DeJesus struck out, Darwin Barney walked to load the bases, but Axford struck out Castro for his first save.Shawn Marcum (1-0) settled down after a shaky start and gave up three runs in six solid innings. Rickie Weeks homered to help the Brewers start the four-game series on a winning note after getting pounded twice while dropping two of three at home to St. Louis.Ramirez got a mixed reaction from fans in a successful homecoming, driving in the game's first run with a sacrifice fly and adding an RBI double in the seventh that made it 6-3. That came after Matt Gamel hit a run-scoring triple off Shawn Camp (0-1) and scored in the sixth, breaking a 3-3 tie.That was enough for Marcum, who gave up solo homers to Barney and Bryan LaHair in the first two innings but not much after that.The reaction for Ramirez was hardly a surprise, considering fans often questioned his effort during his eight-plus seasons in Chicago. Nor was the reception for Braun, who had two hits and scored a run. The reigning NL MVP's potential 50-game suspension for a positive drug test was overturned, but the scar to his reputation figures to linger.One fan in the left-field bleachers brought a large "Cheater" sign. Another held up one that read "Bonds: 762" on one line with "Braun: MVP" on the second and an asterisk with the word "Cheaters" on the third. And just about everyone let him hear it in his first road game.Marcum, meanwhile, looked as if he might not last long in this one, with Barney driving a ball to the left-field basket in the first and LaHair clearing the right-field bleachers to make it 2-1 in the second - Chicago's first homers this season.Weeks tied it at 2 with a laser off Chris Volstad just inside the left-field foul pole leading off the third, and Alex Gonzalez gave the Brewers a 3-2 lead in the fourth when he doubled and scored from third on Marcum's squeeze.The Cubs tied it in the fifth, but the Brewers quickly regained the lead, sending old friend Dale Sveum and the Cubs to their third loss in four games.Volstad, acquired from Miami in the Carlos Zambrano trade, allowed three runs and five hits after the Cubs got dominant starts from Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza and Jeff Samardzija against Washington.Notes
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said Wednesday would be a "logical" day to give OF Corey Hart a day of rest since it's a day game after a night game. Hart had surgery on his right knee in March and left this game in the seventh. ... Chris Narveson starts Tuesday's game for Milwaukee, with Paul Maholm pitching for Chicago.Box scoreCopyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Jimmy Butler records triple-double as Bulls beat Cavaliers again without LeBron James

Jimmy Butler records triple-double as Bulls beat Cavaliers again without LeBron James

Winning a game against a LeBron James led team has proven to be an easier task than most for the Chicago Bulls in the last couple regular seasons.

And winning without James has proven to be a herculean task for the Cleveland Cavaliers since his return in 2014.

So putting those two events together seemed to produce an inevitable result at Quicken Loans Arena, with James out due to illness, as the Bulls pulled away from the Cavaliers 117-99 Saturday night.

The win marks the fourth straight for the Bulls, pulling them over .500 for the first time in nearly two months and they lead the season series 3-0 over the NBA Champions.

Of course, if James were healthy perhaps the Cavaliers would look more cohesive but without him, only Kyrie Irving was in double figures amongst the starters for most of the night. Irving was unguardable with 34 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.

After the lead rose to 20, Irving went to work to get the Cavaliers back in it by scoring eight in the quarter and cutting the lead in half with 2:30 left. But without James, the Bulls were able to hold off the Cavaliers with baskets from 
Cristiano Felicio and Nikola Mirotic, who had his second straight big game with 14 points and 10 boards.

A third-quarter flurry from the Bulls gave them some breathing room after a back-and-forth 24 minutes. The Cavs threatened to blow the game open with a 65-59 lead to start the third but the Bulls quickly turned the tables, getting stops and leaking out for fast breaks.

Dwyane Wade corralled weak-side rebounds and popped it ahead to Butler and Bobby Portis for layups. 

Butler then hit two triples in succession to give the Bulls a 76-67 lead.

He struggled from the field but hit four triples on his way to 16 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, and Wade was one rebound short—one Felicio rebound attempt with seconds remaining, from getting a triple-double with 20 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds in 34 minutes

But the 3-point shooting has been a welcome addition since the trade of Doug McDermott, their best 3-point shooter.

Denzel Valentine followed up his sterling showing Friday night with another competent and confident performance, hitting three triples to score 11 and at least competing on the defensive end.

Cameron Payne made his debut as a Bull and hit two triples in the first half, both passes off the ball as he hasn't had enough time to grasp the offense, only going through a morning walkthrough with the coaching staff after the team arrived in Cleveland.

All in all, the Bulls had their ninth game with 10 or more triples, hitting 15.