The NL Central rivals meet for the first time this season when the Cubs travel to Miller Park to meet the Brewers in the start of a three-game series on Friday night.
With Alfonso Soriano added to a lineup already featuring heavy hitters Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez, the Cubs were expected to display some offensive punch right out of the gate. Chicago (1-2), though hit just one homer, scored seven runs and left 27 men on base while losing two of three in Cincinnati.
Free-agent pickup Mark DeRosa homered and the Cubs finished with 10 hits, but fell 5-2 to the Reds on Thursday to drop a season-opening series for the third time in four years.
Milwaukee (2-1), meanwhile, hit four homers, had 13 extra-base hits and scored 15 runs in taking two of three from the Los Angeles Dodgers at home to start the season.
“Our job is to win series at home and try to split on the road, and we took care of business here at home,” Milwaukee catcher Johnny Estrada said on the team’s official Web site.
Milwaukee’s rally fell short in a 5-4 loss to Los Angeles on Wednesday. The Brewers trailed 5-1 before scoring two in the eighth and one in the ninth. Jeff Suppan suffered the loss despite allowing two runs in seven innings in his Milwaukee debut.
“We let some big scoring opportunities get away,” Milwaukee manager Ned Yost said. “We had some balls hit right on the nose, but we didn’t get a break.”
Dave Bush will take the ball for Milwaukee on Friday. Bush led the Brewers in wins last season, going 12-11 with a 4.41 ERA. He also was second on the club with 210 innings pitched and 166 strikeouts.
“One of the things for me is that I’m constantly trying to get better,” Bush said. “Six months from now, there will be things that I’m working on now that will finally come together.”
Bush is 1-2 with 3.03 ERA in five career starts against the Cubs. He pitched well in the Brewers’ 3-2 loss to the Cubs and Rich Hill - who will start Friday - on Sept. 27, when Chicago scored twice in the bottom of the ninth off reliever Francisco Cordero.
Hill went 6-7 with a 4.17 ERA last season as a rookie. He has a 1.59 ERA in two games with one start against the Brewers, striking out 13 and walking four in 11 1-3 innings.
While Chicago has struggled to score runs this week, Ramirez is 7-for-13 with an RBI. He hit four home runs and drove in 11 runs in 49 at-bats against Milwaukee last season. So far, Lee is 4-for-12 and Soriano is 3-for-13 with a double and no RBIs or runs scored.
Each team won eight games in the season series in 2006.