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WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUNDUP: Brewers' lead down to 1.5 games as Brewers lose, Cards win

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The Milwaukee Brewers' division lead narrowed to one-and-a-half games, after the Crew lost at home to Toronto yesterday, 9-to-5.  Second-place Saint Louis beat Cincinnati last night, while third-place Pittsburgh ended a seven-game losing streak with a 3-to-2 win over Atlanta.  The Pirates are now six games behind the Brewers in the National League Central, as the two teams get ready to face each other in a crucial weekend series at Miller Park.  Milwaukee ended a five-game winning streak with its loss to the Blue Jays.  Toronto scored five runs in the sixth inning to go in front for good at 7-to-3.  The rally was highlighted by Jose Bautista's three-run homer.  Carlos Gomez hit a two-run shot to get the Brewers to within two, but Colby Rasmus gave Toronto some breathing room with a two-run homer in the ninth.  Jimmy Nelson took the loss, dropping to 2-and-4.  He gave up four runs on nine hits in five-and-two-thirds innings.  R-A Dickey got the win, despite giving up all five Milwaukee runs on eight hits.  He's 10-and-12.  The Brewers split their two-game set against the Blue Jays.  The Crew is off today, before hosting the Pirates tomorrow night.

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Brewers' third baseman Aramis Ramirez has the National League's second-highest batting average since June fourth.  Ramirez has batted .320 since he returned from an injured hamstring that kept him on the disabled list for three weeks.  Only former Beloit Snapper Ben Revere of Philadelphia has a higher average in that stretch, at .336.  Ramirez has belted eight homers in the past two-and-a-half months, with 36 RBI's.  Manager Ron Roenicke says he needs those kinds of consistent numbers from Ramirez.  The 36-year-old veteran is no longer the home run threat he once was -- but Roenicke says it doesn't matter, as long as he remains a productive run-producer.  The skipper says Ramirez still gets his extra-base hits, and he understands how to drive in runs.  Ramirez -- who started at third base for the National League in last month's All-Star Game -- is in the final season of his three-year contract with Milwaukee.

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Ryan Helminen of Menasha eagled the second-to-last hole yesterday to win the State Open golf tournament.  The 39-year-old club pro finished second by one shot a year ago, and was close to the lead throughout this week's Open in Sheboygan Falls.  Yesterday, Helminen was down by four shots with eight holes to play when he got hot.  He birdied the 14th and 15th holes, then made a 22-foot putt for eagle on the par-five 17th.  That gave Helminen a one-shot lead over Dan Woltman going into the final hole.  Woltman missed a birdie chip while Helminen two-putted for par to clinch his second State Open crown -- and his first since 2008.  Helminen shot a five-under-par 67 for his final round and finished at nine-under-279.  Woltman finished one stroke back.  Jordan Elsen finished third after shooting the lowest round yesterday at 66.

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After a day off yesterday, the Green Bay Packers will hold a public practice late this morning on the eve of their third exhibition game.  The Pack hosts the Oakland Raiders tomorrow night, when ex-Green Bay players Charles Woodson and James Jones return for the silver-and-black.  Coach Mike McCarthy says the third pre-season game is still the most important -- although it no longer resembles a full-blown game situation.  McCarthy says he still puts more of a premium on the style of play and the way the units communicate.  Meanwhile, Forbes magazine says the Packers are worth just under one-point-four billion dollars -- the 13th-highest among the N-F-L's 32 teams.  It's slightly below Forbes' estimate of one-point-four-billion-plus for the average N-F-L team.  The national average was up 23-percent from a year ago.  The Dallas Cowboys remain the league's most valuable franchise, at three-point-two billion dollars.

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Injured tight end Colt Lyerla will stay with the Green Bay Packers after he cleared waivers yesterday, and was placed on the team's injured reserve list.  Coach Mike McCarthy said earlier yesterday that the un-drafted rookie from Oregon was put on the waiver list with an injury designation.  By clearing waivers, he'll have another chance to make the team at next year's Training Camp.  Lyerla tore the P-C-L and M-C-L ligaments in his right knee on the August second Family Night, as he tried hurdling over a tackler.  There's been talk that the Packers will eventually move Lyerla to fullback to replace 32-year-old John Kuhn.  Tight ends' coach Jerry Fontenot said the coaches have not discussed that possibility yet -- although he agreed that Lyerla has the build and the makeup for a fullback.

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Wisconsin starting inside linebacker Derek Landisch hopes to be ready for the Badgers' season opener against L-S-U in nine days.  He strained his right hamstring at practice on August 13th.  Defensive coordinator Dave Aranda said the senior Landisch was a solid performer at the Badgers' pre-season camp before his injury.  Landisch said he never had a hamstring problem before, so he's not sure how it will heal.  He's been held of practices all week, and the coaches plan to get him ready for the L-S-U opener in Houston a week from Saturday night.

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