Chicago Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro, left, waits for the throw as Milwaukee Brewers' Carlos Gomez is safe stealing second base during the seventh inning of a baseball game in Chicago, Wednesday, April 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
George Kottaras hit a two-run homer in the seventh inning, and Yovani Gallardo outdueled Ryan Dempster as the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Chicago Cubs 2-1 Wednesday for their third straight win in the four-game series.
Backed by Starlin Castro's first-inning sacrifice fly that followed David DeJesus' double, Dempster (0-1) had a three-hit shutout before Mat Gamel doubled leading off the seventh. Kottaras, Milwaukee's backup catcher, followed with his second homer this season.
Gallardo (1-1) allowed five hits in seven innings, struck out six and walked two, getting 11 ground-ball outs. Francisco Rodriguez worked around a pair of walks in the eighth, and John Axford pitched a one-hit ninth for his second save, dropping the last-place Cubs to a 1-5 start.
Dempster allowed two runs, five hits and three walks in 6 2-3 innings with five strikeouts.
Milwaukee gave Ryan Braun, Corey Hart and regular catcher Jonathan Lucroy off from the starting lineup.
Making his first big league start, Brewers leadoff hitter Norichika Aoki reached on a single and a walk, seeing 29 pitches over four plate appearances. Aoki was a three-time batting champion and six-time Gold Glove winner during seven seasons with Yakult in Japan's Central League.