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CHC@NYM: Wells pitches seven strong innings vs. Mets

Milwaukee's magic number to clinch the division is four. The most important number to Brewers manager Ron Roenicke is one, as in one game at a time.

"I don't know about the magic numbers," Roenicke said. "I know we've got a team that would really like to beat us. That's what I know. Hey, we've got to be on top of our game."

Roenicke knows of what he speaks.

On Monday, the Cubs topped the Brewers, 5-2. On Tuesday, they'll square off again, this time with Randy Wells on the mound for the Cubs and Shaun Marcum on the hill for the Brewers.

In his last outing, Marcum dropped a decision to the Rockies on Wednesday after he was tagged for six runs (five earned) on eight hits and one walk. He struck out four over five innings.

That said, Marcum, along with fellow first-year Brewers starter Zack Greinke, is a big reason why the club is in the position it is in. The club's offense, led by Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder and Corey Hart, has been intact for several seasons, but the club's revamped rotation has allowed it to succeed where in the past it's fallen short.

"The Brauns and the Fielders and the Harts and Casey McGehee, they've been doing it for a while," Cubs manager Mike Quade said. "It just shows you if nothing else the value of pitching and how quickly things can turn around for anybody if the pitching is intact. They didn't have good starting pitching, and they fortified that."

The Brewers, who are 5-5 in their last 10 games, still lead the Cardinals in the National League Central by 5 1/2 games. They hold a narrow lead over the NL West-leading D-backs in the race for the second seed behind the Phillies.

It will be up to Wells to keep the explosive Brewers offense in check. He is 5-0 in his last nine starts, but he did not get a decision in his last outing against the Reds. He's 0-1 in two starts against the Brewers this season.

"We'll still mix and match," Quade said of his lineup. "It's a little different than playing Houston. There won't be a kids' day against these guys."

Brewers: Ax man cometh for the record
• John Axford has 43 saves and needs one more to tie the single-season franchise record, set by Francisco Cordero in 2007. Axford has recorded 40 saves in a row.

• Yovani Gallardo and Greinke are currently aligned to pitch their final regular-season games on Friday and Saturday against the Marlins.

• Infielder Taylor Green and right-hander Mike Fiers were named recipients of the 2011 Robin Yount Performance Award as Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year, respectively.

Cubs: A Starlin's born
• Starlin Castro has reached base in a career-high 32 consecutive games. The only Cubs shortstop to reach base safely in more consecutive games is Woody English, who reached base safely in 34 consecutive games in 1929 . English also reached base in 32 straight games in 1930.

Castro is also four hits from reaching 200 for the season and becoming the fifth Major League shortstop since 1940 to reach the 200 hit mark at age 21 or younger.

• Alfonso Soriano went 1-for-3 Monday. It marked the 1,600th game of his career.

• Eighty-one of the club's 154 games this season have been decided by two runs or fewer. The Cubs are 36-45 in those games.

Worth noting
• Since a 16-31 start, the Brewers are 22-10 on the road, to lift their overall mark away from Milwaukee to 38-41.

• The Cubs are 26-21 since July 31.

• The Brewers are 52-23 at home this season and need two wins to tie the franchise record for a season set 1978.

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