- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 3, 2014

CHICAGO (AP) - The Chicago Cubs are proving to be one difficult assignment for contending teams hoping to improve their playoff position.

Jake Arrieta pitched six solid innings and Chicago beat Milwaukee 7-1 on Tuesday night, handing the Brewers their seventh consecutive loss.

The last-place Cubs will try for a series sweep of the Brewers on Wednesday night. They are 18-14 since Aug. 1, including a sweep of AL East-leading Baltimore and two of three in a series at NL West-leading Los Angeles.

“We’re figuring out ways to put all the facets of the game together at the same time,” Arrieta said. “That’s what really good teams do.”

Arrieta (8-5) allowed one run and five hits, struck out four and walked two. He has allowed one or no runs in 13 of his 22 starts this season.

Shortstop Elian Herrera made two errors that helped the Cubs score four runs in the first inning, and Milwaukee stranded a runner in scoring position in five of the nine innings.

Since owning a 2 1/2-game lead in the NL Central on Aug. 19, the Brewers have lost 10 of 12.

“We have to get back to the way we played the majority of the first five months,” slugger Ryan Braun said. “Every team has a bad week. It’s not an ideal time for it to happen to us. But we have to go out there and continue to compete every day, and it will turn around at some point.”

Milwaukee’s Yovani Gallardo (8-8) allowed a season-high seven runs and eight hits in five innings.

Jorge Soler and Luis Valbuena each singled in a run in the first and came around to score on Herrera’s errors.

Braun singled home Scooter Gennett in the third, but the Cubs pulled away again in the fifth. Welington Castillo had an RBI double and Arismendy Alcantara connected for a two-run homer, extending the Cubs’ lead to 7-1.

“Everybody chipped away, made some things happen,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. “We took advantage of their mistakes.”

Alcantara, who made his big league debut earlier this season, now has eight home runs through 50 games.

Valbuena got two hits and scored twice. Over his past 17 games, he has hit six homers, driven in 10 runs and scored 12.

Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro sprained his left ankle on an awkward slide home in the first inning, and left the game. Initial tests revealed no fracture for the three-time All-Star.

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