After rarely coming through when they needed to previously this season, the Chicago Cubs’ offense provided some timely hits to end a four-game skid on Tuesday.
Chicago hopes that can continue on Wednesday night as it looks to take the series finale from the visiting Milwaukee Brewers.
The Cubs (3-5) didn’t show much promise early in Tuesday’s bid to end their losing streak, falling into a 3-0 hole in the second inning – a day after they trailed 4-0 after one in a 7-4 Milwaukee victory.
Chicago entered the game hitting .136 with runners in scoring position, but may have gotten a serious confidence boost Tuesday. Though it technically didn’t help that average, Scott Hairston provided the go-ahead pinch-hit sacrifice fly in the eighth to bring home Nate Schierholtz before David DeJesus’ two-run single added insurance in a 6-3 win.
The Cubs led wire-to-wire in their previous two wins.
“It is very exciting to come back and win,” Hairston said. “I think for some of the younger guys this builds confidence within themselves. I think throughout the season we will learn that we can come back no matter what the score is.”
Meanwhile, the Brewers (2-6) can’t feel great about their bullpen – particularly John Axford. A day after being demoted from the closer role, Axford yielded three runs in two-thirds of an inning and was saddled with the loss Tuesday. He’s given up at least a run in all four appearances this season, recording a 24.30 ERA in 3 1-3 innings.
“Hopefully we’ll have him where we can use him just to clean innings in the sixth or seventh innings, somewhere in there and once in a while it may be the eighth, depending on what happens in the game,” said manager Ron Roenicke, who visited an emergency room before Tuesday’s game because of back pain – though he assumed his normal duties afterward.
The Brewers should be able to expect good things from starter Kyle Lohse on Wednesday. He held the Diamondbacks to one run on five hits in six innings last Friday, though Milwaukee lost 3-1.
“It felt like all my stuff was working pretty good from the first inning on,” Lohse said of his Brewers’ debut. “It was fun to get back out there and get my season started.”
Lohse is familiar with the Cubs after spending the last five seasons with the Cardinals, and he’s 3-0 with a 2.84 ERA in his last five starts against Chicago.
Alfonso Soriano is 20 of 53 (.377) against him with five home runs while DeJesus is 12 of 26.
Conversely, Chicago hopes starter Scott Feldman looks nothing like he did in his first outing. He surrendered four runs on five hits with four walks over 4 2-3 innings in a 4-1 loss at Atlanta last Friday in his Cubs debut.
The right-hander also threw two wild pitches, hit a batter and committed an error.
Feldman locked down the Brewers in his only previous career start against them, throwing six shutout innings while surrendering four hits in a victory as a member of the Rangers on June 12, 2010.
After missing the previous three games due to neck spasms, Ryan Braun looks no worse for wear thus far in the series, going 5 for 8. He’s 18 for 30 with seven doubles, three home runs and 11 RBIs over his last seven games against the Cubs.