After an impressive win to begin their final homestand of the season, the Chicago Cubs look for just their third sweep at Wrigley Field when they wrap up their season series with the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday.
Chicago (64-94) opened its 2006 home schedule with a three-game sweep of St. Louis from April 7-9 and also took a four-game set from the NL Central-leading Cardinals from July 27-30. The Cubs have not won two in a row at Wrigley Field over Milwaukee (73-84) since June 28-29, 2005.
To try and complete the sweep, Cubs rookie Rich Hill (6-7, 4.29 ERA) will have to continue his recent string of good starts at home. The left-hander, who will face the Brewers for the first time this season, is 2-0 with a 0.74 ERA and .133 opponent batting average in three September home starts.
In 24 1-3 innings in that span, he’s struck 27 while walking just four. Hill, though, has struggled on the road all season going 1-5 with a 7.18 ERA in seven outings.
In a 4-2 loss to Cincinnati on Friday during a game shortened to five innings by rain, Hill struck out 10 for the second straight game but gave up three homers en route to his second straight complete game.
“He certainly has the stuff,” Cubs manager Dusty Baker said of Hill. “Sometimes it takes time to get in that winning frame, the attitude, confidence in your pitches. You have to be confident in what you’re throwing and when you’re throwing it.”
Hill pitched 4 1-3 innings of hitless relief in a 9-4 loss to Milwaukee on June 22, 2005.
While Hill has fared well at home, Milwaukee starter Dave Bush (12-11, 4.54) has struggled on the road. In four starts since winning on Aug. 1 at Colorado, the right-hander is 0-3 with a 5.57 ERA.
Bush got the win Thursday in a 9-4 home victory over San Francisco, but struggled in doing so. He gave up five hits—including three homers—over 7 1-3 innings.
“My job … is to pitch us deep into games and give us a chance to win,” Bush said. “It’s important to me—to all starters—to be able to last deep into games and deep into the season.”
Bush, who is making his fifth start this year against the Cubs, is 1-2 with a 3.58 ERA. He’s given up six runs and 17 hits over 12 2-3 innings in two outings at Wrigley Field this year.
Chicago posted just its second win in seven games with a 14-6 rout of Milwaukee on Tuesday. Henry Blanco had a season high four hits and tied another season high with four RBIs.
“We don’t give up,” said Baker, whose contract expires at the end of the season and may not be back in 2007. “You got to manage and play up to the last out of the last game.”