Cubs-Brewers Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated April 18, 2013
After sweeping the defending champions, the Milwaukee Brewers appear to be playing with some confidence heading into their three-game series against the Chicago Cubs. With their early struggles behind them, the surging Brewers look for their 16th win in 18 home games against the Cubs and fifth straight victory overall Friday night. Riding a club-record scoreless streak and three innings shy of falling to 2-9, the Brewers (6-8) seemed to gain some momentum Sunday when they scored four runs over the final three innings in a 4-3, 10-inning victory at St. Louis. The good vibes from that win carried over into their series against San Francisco as they wrapped up a three-game sweep with a 7-2 victory Thursday. Ryan Braun, Jonathan Lucroy and Yovani Gallardo homered, and Gallardo also allowed one earned run over six innings in his first start being arrested on a drunken driving charge. "Anytime you play that well in a series against a really good ballclub, it should build up a lot of confidence in what we're doing," manager Ron Roenicke told MLB's official website. Now the Brewers have a chance to keep things rolling against a Chicago team they've dominated at home in recent years. They've won five straight over the Cubs at Miller Park and outscored them 82-56 during a 15-2 run that dates to April 9, 2011. Milwaukee will send right-hander Marco Estrada to the mound as he looks to win his fourth straight start against the Cubs. Estrada (1-0, 4.50 ERA) gave up two runs over seven innings in a 7-4 win at Wrigley Field on April 8. He's gone 3-0 with a 1.50 ERA while striking out 27 over 24 innings in four starts against Chicago. Starlin Castro, though, has done some damage against Estrada, going 5 for 12 with two doubles and a triple. He's also batting .356 (16 for 45) with seven extra-base hits and five RBIs during a 10-game hitting streak. Catcher Wellington Castillo, who homered off Estrada at Wrigley, may get a chance to build on his career-best 4-for-4 performance in a 6-2 win over Texas on Thursday. "If he can swing the bat like this all year long we've got something really special because the defense he has behind the plate is one of the best in baseball," manager Dale Sveum said. Anthony Rizzo and Alfonso Soriano hit back-to-back home runs, while Carlos Villanueva allowed two runs over seven innings to help the Cubs snap a three-game losing streak. Chicago (5-9) turns to right-hander Jeff Samardzija as it begins a 10-game road trip. After shutting out Pittsburgh over eight innings in an opening-day victory, Samardzija (1-2, 2.75) has allowed six runs in 11 2-3 innings while dropping his last two starts. He's 0-2 with a 3.18 ERA in three starts against the Brewers. While Braun has two hits - both homers - in 22 at-bats over his last six games, he's 6 for 13 with a home run versus Samardzija. Lucroy looks to continue his recent tear, going 7 for 17 with two homers and five RBIs in his last four games. The catcher, however, is 0 for 7 with four strikeouts against Samardzija. The Brewers totaled 21 runs in the three games versus the Giants after scoring seven over the previous four contests.
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