As their up-and-down season continues, the Brewers will visit Wrigley Field on Friday, with the hopes of snapping out of a recent funk and, in turn, staying out of the National League Central cellar.
After winning back-to-back series against NL Central powers Cincinnati and Pittsburgh from Aug. 23-29, the Brewers have stumbled in their two series since. They suffered a sweep at the hands of the Angels last weekend and, though they won Wednesday, dropped a three-game set to the Pirates.
The Cubs, meanwhile, enter the three-game weekend set having salvaged Wednesday's series finale with a comeback victory to avoid being swept by the Marlins. On Friday, Chicago will call on young lefty Chris Rusin, who turned in a solid month of August in spite of his 1-3 record.
Rusin tallied just one win in six August starts despite limiting the opposition to two or fewer earned runs in all but one of those outings. He finished the month with a 2.64 ERA and is 2-3 with a 2.74 ERA in nine starts overall this season, which comes after struggling to a 6.37 mark in seven starts last season following his big league debut.
"He was here last year and had some struggles, but [he] understood, 'This is what I have to do to get big league hitters out,'" Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "He's been able to do that. I think the biggest thing for him maturity-wise is making the pitches when he has to make them. That's been the difference."
Milwaukee will counter with veteran Kyle Lohse, who rebounded well on Sunday after serving up a career-worst 13 hits in his previous outing. After being tagged for five runs off those 13 hits over just 5 1/3 innings on Aug. 27 against the Bucs, Lohse limited the Halos to just one run off seven hits over six innings of work on Sunday.
The 34-year-old righty, who was drafted by the Cubs in 1996, received no-decisions in each of those outings and sits at 9-8 with a 3.32 ERA in 28 starts this season.
Brewers: Segura expected back Friday
All-Star shortstop Jean Segura was held out of Wednesday's starting lineup because he was sick, manager Ron Roenicke said, but is expected to return Friday.
• Milwaukee starters have turned in quality starts in six of their last seven games, going 2-2 with a 3.00 ERA.
Cubs: Division games proving difficult
Starting with Friday's series opener against the Brewers, the Cubs will play 20 of their final 23 games against NL Central opponents. It's a slate that seemingly does not bode well for Chicago, considering the Cubs have posted just a 19-37 record against the Central this year.
The 19 wins are the fewest victories for any club within its own division. Over their final 23 games, the Cubs will play seven each against the Brewers and Pirates, three each against the Reds and Cardinals and three more against the Braves in their lone remaining non-divisional series.
"So many people put emphasis on what division, and whatever," Sveum said. "We're trying to win any game. It doesn't matter who we're playing. We're going to be playing some contending teams, but for the most part, right now the playoffs are finalized in the National League, unless somebody goes out and loses every ballgame they play."
• The Cubs claimed former first-round Draft pick Daniel Bard off waivers from the Red Sox on Wednesday. Cole Gillaspie was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for Bard, who will join the Cubs on Friday.
• Segura is looking to become the second player in franchise history to lead his league in stolen bases (Scott Podsednik, 2004). With 39, he has a two-steal lead over suspended Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera and four more than Pittsburgh's Starling Marte and Mets outfielder Eric Young Jr.
• Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro is hitting .314 with four doubles, two homers and seven RBIs in his last 12 games.