The Chicago Cubs are in the midst of their longest home losing streak in 14 years. They might be sending the right pitcher to the mound Tuesday to stop it.
Zambrano (6-3, 2.83 ERA) is 5-0 with a 1.56 ERA in his last eight starts following a Chicago loss. He’ll look to play the stopper role again for the Cubs, who have their longest home skid since dropping 12 straight to start the 1994 season.
The 25-year-old right-hander will be trying to win his fourth consecutive decision. He’ll facing a Brewers team that he has won four of his last five decisions against at Wrigley Field, posting an 0.90 ERA in the four victories.
Zambrano, though, struggled in his last home outing against the Brewers, surrendering seven runs and eight hits in four innings of a 9-0 loss April 30.
Zambrano, like many of Chicago’s pitchers, hasn’t gotten much help from the lineup this season. He is 1-3 with a 3.38 ERA in eight home starts, getting only 13 runs of support in those games.
The Cubs had seven hits in a 6-0 loss to the Brewers on Monday and have been outscored 52-19 during the home losing streak. Their 12-21 home mark is the worst in baseball.
“Obviously, we’re not in a good situation,” Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee said. “Our goal right now is to day by day win games, concentrate on playing good baseball, play hard every single day, concentrate and focus every single day.”
Lee returned to the lineup Sunday after missing more than two months with a broken right wrist and has gone 3-for-8 in two games.
He has tried to deflect pressure from Cubs manager Dusty Baker, who is being criticized in his third season with the team and the last under his current contract.
“That shouldn’t fall on the manager,” Lee said. “We get paid to play. Our job is to show up everyday to play. That’s our job to be prepared.”
The Brewers (38-39) are trying to win their fourth in a row over the Cubs and will send Zach Jackson (1-0, 4.67) to the mound.
The rookie left-hander allowed two runs and eight hits in three innings of a 6-3 Brewers win over Cleveland in his last start June 18.
Milwaukee first baseman Prince Fielder hit two solo home runs in Monday’s victory, giving him 16 on the year, tops among rookies. Fielder has seven homers in the last 13 games, but only eight RBIs in that span.
Milwaukee has won only three of its last five, but has managed to pull within five games of first-place St. Louis, loser of seven straight, in the NL Central. The Brewers are tied with Houston for third place, 3 1/2 games back of second-place Cincinnati.
Brewers left fielder Carlos Lee homered for the third straight game at Wrigley Field, a two-run shot for his fifth in five contests there. He’s batting .315 with 11 homers and 27 RBIs in 28 games at Wrigley.
Lee leads the Brewers with 24 homers and 62 RBIs.
The Brewers need Lee and Fielder to continue their power production with Geoff Jenkins mired in the longest home run drought of his career—31 consecutive games and 108 at-bats.
The right fielder has seven homers this season, but has topped 25 in each of the previous three years. He has five homers at Wrigley, but has not homered there in 14 games.
The Cubs, though, have surrendered 100 home runs this season to tie the Reds for most in the NL.
“Home runs are the result of good swings,” said Jenkins, second on the team with 44 RBIs. “Home runs are not the most important thing. Driving in runs is the main thing.”