Matt Garza is still seeking his first win for the Milwaukee Brewers after delivering another shaky performance his last time out.
A matchup against his former team could help him get on track.
Garza faces the lowly Chicago Cubs for the first time in the opener of a three-game home set Friday night.
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Garza (0-2, 4.50 ERA) signed a four-year, $50 million deal in January – the richest free-agent contract in Brewers history – after spending most of the previous three seasons with Chicago. The right-hander, who went 21-18 with a 3.45 ERA in 60 starts with the Cubs before getting traded to Texas in July, is looking at Friday’s showdown as just "another ballgame."
Manager Ron Roenicke, meanwhile, isn’t sure what to expect.
"Hard to say," Roenicke told MLB’s official website. "I don’t know what he’s going to be like. It’s changed from outing to outing. The more we see him, the more we’ll understand. We saw that when he was on the other side and we were facing him, we know that when he was comfortable and in a groove, we were going to have a tough day."
Garza allowed two hits over eight innings in a 1-0 loss to Atlanta in his Brewers debut April 2 but hasn’t been able to find his form since. He’s posted a 6.00 ERA over his last three starts, a stretch during which opponents are hitting .329.
Garza couldn’t hold on to a 4-1 lead Saturday at Pittsburgh, allowing six runs and eight hits while walking three in five innings of an 8-7 victory.
"He can definitely throw the ball better, and I’ve seen better," Roenicke said. "Hopefully we get him in a groove where we see this consistency from him and we get a lot of good outings in a row."
Garza would appear to have a favorable matchup against the Cubs (7-14), who have hit .185 and been outscored 21-8 during a four-game road losing streak. Chicago concluded a 3-4 homestand with back-to-back losses to MLB-worst Arizona, falling 5-2 on Thursday.
The Brewers (16-6) own baseball’s best record and second-lowest ERA (2.52). They are seeking a sixth win in seven games after beating San Diego 5-2 on Wednesday.
"We’re doing some great things on the field, pitching, bullpen," said shortstop Jean Segura, who went 2 for 3 with a three-run homer. "We’re going in the right direction."
The Brewers have taken 33 of the last 45 meetings with the Cubs and are 22-5 in the last 27 at home.
Carlos Villanueva (1-4, 10.93) is set to make what could be his last start for Chicago with Jake Arrieta getting closer to debuting. After giving up a career-high nine runs in three-plus innings in a 10-4 loss at St. Louis on April 12, Villanueva yielded five over 4 2-3 in Sunday’s 8-2 loss to Cincinnati.
"We all know what the plan is, it’s no major secret," Villanueva said. "If I have to go down to the bullpen, I’ll keep working my butt off and try to help out there."
Villanueva allowed four runs in 6 1-3 innings while not receiving a decision in a 6-5 loss to Milwaukee on July 30 in his only start against his former team. Mark Reynolds is 5 for 16 with two homers against him, and Aramis Ramirez is 4 for 8 with three doubles.
Ryan Braun is batting .525 with five homers and 17 RBIs during a 10-game hitting streak against Chicago. He’s hit safely in 14 of 16 overall, going 23 for 64 (.359) with six homers and 17 RBIs.