Brewers-Cubs Preview

Chicago Cubs starter Justin Germano believes he pitched better

than the box score would indicate after he gave up seven runs to

the Milwaukee Brewers in his last outing.

He will get another chance to prove he can fare well against the

Brewers when these NL Central rivals open a four-game set Monday

night at Wrigley Field.

Milwaukee (59-67) swept three games at home from Chicago (49-77)

last week to improve to 10-3 in the season series including five

straight wins.

The Brewers opened last week’s set Aug. 20 with a 9-5 victory.

Germano (2-3, 5.40 ERA) lasted 4 2-3 innings for the Cubs and was

charged with seven runs – six in an eight-run fifth by Milwaukee

that chased the right-hander.

The journeyman had not given up that many runs since allowing a

career-high 10 at Houston on April 21, 2008, but thought his

performance against the Brewers wasn’t that bad.

“People might think I’m crazy, but I feel like I pitched a lot

better than the line shows,” Germano said. “I got ground balls

that last inning. They just hit them where our guys weren’t. It’s

part of the game. A couple inches to the left, a couple inches to

the right, I could get out of that inning with just a couple runs.

I definitely battled that last inning just trying to get that third

out.”

Germano could be in better shape one week later since he has

pitched better at home, going 2-1 with a 3.18 ERA in four

appearances – three starts.

Milwaukee catcher Jonathan Lucroy homered off Germano last week,

and he’s 10 for 27 with three homers and 13 RBIs against the Cubs

this year. He’s not the only Brewers hitter who has enjoyed success

against Chicago pitching in 2012.

Norichika Aoki is 13 for 33 (.394) with two homers and Corey

Hart is 15 for 42 (.357) with seven doubles and a home run. Ryan

Braun, who leads the majors with a .590 slugging percentage, is 13

for 43 (.302).

Chicago pitchers have been careful with Braun and Aramis

Ramirez, walking each slugger nine times while the pair has

combined for nine RBIs. This is Ramirez’s second series at Wrigley

since leaving the Cubs after last season, and he went 1 for 11 in

the first one April 9-11.

Ramirez, however, enters this set with a .345 average in his

last 14 road games. He went 6 for 12 with five RBIs as the Brewers

took two of three at Pittsburgh over the weekend.

The Cubs may not be too thrilled to see Milwaukee starter Marco

Estrada (1-5, 4.23), who struck out nine over six scoreless innings

against them last Tuesday to earn a 5-2 victory – the

right-hander’s first since Aug. 23, 2011.

“Definitely, that’s the best he’s thrown all year,” Lucroy said.

“He controlled his fastball. He controlled his off-speed

stuff.”

Estrada had made 15 starts and 14 relief appearances since his

last victory.

His woes probably pale in comparison to the slide by the Cubs’

Chris Volstad, who earned his first victory in 25 starts with 6 2-3

effective innings in Sunday’s rain-shortened 5-0 win over Colorado.

Chicago took two of three in the weekend set.