Ben Sheets has to be happy he’s heading to Chicago.
Sheets will look to rebound from his worst performance of the young season by continuing his mastery of the Cubs as the Milwaukee Brewers open a three-game series at Wrigley Field.
Sheets gave up a season-high eight runs—six earned—and 10 hits in a 9-5 loss to the Montreal Expos on Wednesday. The 24-year-old right-hander retired eight of the first nine he faced, but gave up five runs and six hits in the fourth inning.
“It baffles me,” said Sheets, who lost for the first time in four starts. “Everything got out of hand real quick. It seemed like I threw four pitches, and they had two runs and two on base.
“It’s like the ‘stuff’ wasn’t there in that inning or after that, like it was in the first three innings … It kind of baffled me. I don’t know what’s wrong.”
Manager Ned Yost couldn’t figure it out either.
“It’s hard to explain why you can be on a roll for three innings and then, boom, give up a five spot,” he said. “But it happens. You try to recover from it and minimize the damage.”
“He just started getting the ball up a little bit and leaving balls out over the middle part of the plate.”
If history is any indication, Sheets should bounce back nicely on Monday as he’s 5-0 with a 2.53 ERA in five career starts against the Cubs. At hitter-friendly Wrigley Field, he is 2-0 with a 4.76 ERA.
“It’s a different atmosphere out there, always a little something extra against the Cubs,” Sheets said.
The Brewers come in off a 5-3 loss to the New York Mets on Sunday, their seventh loss in their last eight.
Richie Sexson went 2-for-3, including a first-inning solo homer for Milwaukee.
The Cubs have some momentum after recording their third win in their last four, Sunday’s 5-4, 10-inning victory over the Colorado Rockies.
Alex Gonzalez hit his fifth game-winning homer of the season for Chicago, which is 3-0 in extra-inning games.
STANDINGS: Brewers - 6th place, 8 GB, NL Central. Cubs - 1st place (tied), NL Central.
BREWERS PROBABLE STARTER: Sheets (2-3, 4.98 ERA). Sheets has lasted at least six innings in each of his seven starts, but has allowed at least three earned runs in all but two.
CUBS PROBABLE STARTER: Matt Clement (2-3, 3.38 ERA). Clement gave up five earned runs and five hits over six innings in a 5-0 loss to the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday. In seven career starts against the Brewers, he is 3-2 with a 5.24 ERA.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Brewers - Alex Sanchez, .296 avg. and 5 SBs.; Sexson, 10 HRs, 21 RBIs and 20 runs. Cubs - Gonzalez, .308 avg. and 25 runs; Sammy Sosa, 6 HRs and 23 RBIs; Corey Patterson and Tom Goodwin, 3 SBs.
2002 SEASON SERIES: Brewers, 10-7.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Brewers - OF Geoff Jenkins is in the midst of a 4-for-30 slump. … The Brewers rank third-to-last in the National League with a 5.17 ERA. … CF Sanchez snapped an 0-for-18 skid Sunday with a one-out RBI triple in the third. Cubs - 1B Eric Karros is 4-for-9 (.444) with a double and a home run all-time against Sheets. … The Cubs are expected to activate RHP Antonio Alfonseca, who has been on the DL since spring training with a strained hamstring, before Monday’s game. … The Cubs have already won seven series this season, something they didn’t do until June 7-9 last year.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Brewers - 5-10 on the road; Cubs - 10-6 at home.
INJURIES: Brewers - OF Jeffrey Hammonds (ankle), 15-day DL; LHP Valerio de los Santos (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Jayson Durocher (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Nick Neugebauer (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Todd Ritchie (elbow), 15-day DL; 2B Eric Young (hip), day-to-day. Cubs - RHP Alfonseca (hamstring), 15-day DL; LHP Will Ohman (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Dave Veres (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Scott Chiasson (elbow), 60-day DL.