The Milwaukee Brewers have followed a four-game losing streak with an impressive stretch of consistent hitting that is approaching a franchise record.
They’ll try to keep it going Friday night as they open a three-game home series with the Chicago Cubs, who haven’t scored a run in 20 innings.
The Brewers (32-22) are batting .312 with a .364 on-base percentage over eight straight games with at least 10 hits. The franchise best is nine in a row with double-digit hits, a feat they first accomplished in 1983 and again from July 29-Aug. 7, 2011.
In Wednesday’s 8-3 home win over Baltimore, left fielder Khris Davis extended his hitting streak to seven games, going 2 for 3 with a home run in a third straight contest. He was 7 for 11 with five RBIs in the series as Milwaukee won two of three to begin an eight-game homestand.
"I feel locked in," Davis told the team’s official website. "I found something I could believe in inside my swing that’s working, where I can lay off borderline pitches and swing at the pitch I want to hit."
The Brewers won two of three against the Cubs in Milwaukee from April 25-27 and have won 24 of 30 meetings at Miller Park since April 9, 2011. The Cubs have batted .220 in that time – slightly better than their .195 mark in the last seven games.
The Cubs (19-32) have been shut out in consecutive games for the second time this season after managing just two hits in Wednesday’s 5-0 loss in San Francisco.
"I thought we put together some pretty good at-bats," manager Rick Renteria said. "We just didn’t generate any runs."
They haven’t been held scoreless in three straight games since going four in a row from April 27-May 1, 1992.
The Cubs have had no such issues scoring for Travis Wood, who has won three straight starts and is after a fifth win in May, despite a 5.17 ERA. Wood (5-4, 4.35 ERA) has been the beneficiary of a 5.66 run-support average from an offense that’s scoring 3.8 per game.
His last two starts have been quite strong, surrendering four runs and five hits in 14 1-3 innings. The first of those came at home against Milwaukee on May 18 before he allowed two runs and three hits in 7 1-3 innings of Saturday’s 3-2 victory in San Diego.
Wood is 0-2 with a 5.68 ERA in two starts at Miller Park since joining the Cubs.
He’s held hot-hitting catcher Jonathan Lucroy to 2 for 16, while Carlos Gomez is 3 for 16 against him. Lucroy is batting .425 in 10 games and Gomez .459 during a nine-game hitting streak.
The left-hander will be opposed by Marco Estrada (4-2, 3.98), who has served up an MLB-high 16 home runs. The Cubs have hit four of those with Welington Castillo accounting for two. The Chicago catcher is 5 for 17 with four homers and eight RBIs versus Estrada.
Starlin Castro is batting .417 in 24 at-bats against him, while Anthony Rizzo is 1 for 21.
Estrada has limited the damage of the long ball against the Cubs enough to post a 5-1 record with a 3.09 ERA and .217 opponent batting average in seven starts against them since Aug. 21, 2012.
More recently, the 6.51 RSA he’s received has helped to mask the 13 home runs he’s allowed in his last six starts, over which he’s 3-1 with a 4.82 ERA. In 6 2-3 innings of Friday’s 9-5 win in Miami, Estrada allowed five runs and four solo homers but still earned the victory.
"I know I’ve given up a lot of home runs, and today was no different, but whatever," Estrada said. "If I keep them to one-run homers – these guys off the bases – good things will happen. I’m going to turn it around."