Though the Milwaukee Brewers assured that the Chicago Cubs wouldn’t be able to clinch the NL Central during their current series, they still have some work to do if they plan on celebrating a postseason berth of their own.
The Brewers will try to improve their playoff chances as they wrap-up a three-game set with the NL-best Cubs on Thursday at Wrigley Field.
Milwaukee (84-68) opened its current 10-game road trip with five straight losses before ending the skid with a 6-2 victory on Wednesday. Prince Fielder drove in three runs to help the Brewers win their first game under interim manager Dale Sveum, who replaced the fired Ned Yost on Monday.
The victory also helped Milwaukee stay one-half game behind wild card-leading New York. The Mets held on to defeat Washington 9-7 earlier in the night.
“From here on out, it’s ‘today,’” Sveum told the Brewers’ official Web site. “You worry about tomorrow, tomorrow. Every game we play from here on out is a playoff game.”
Milwaukee won for the fifth time in eight games at Wrigley Field, despite losing oft-injured starter Ben Sheets after two innings due to a tender elbow. Sveum said Sheets’ status will be evaluated later this week.
Meanwhile, the Cubs have lost six of their last seven home games. They also had their five-game winning streak snapped, keeping their magic number at four. They’ll be trying to wrap up their second straight division crown under Lou Piniella during this six-game homestand, which concludes with a three-game weekend series against St. Louis.
“We’d love to (clinch at home) but at the same time, we still have to go out and play,” second baseman Mark DeRosa told the Cubs’ official Web site. “We know we put ourselves in a good position. We just want to keep playing good baseball.”
Bush is 4-1 with a 3.23 ERA over his last eight outings, but the Brewers have lost each of his last three starts. On Sunday, he gave up three runs and five hits over six innings, and didn’t factor in a 7-3 defeat at Philadelphia in the opener of a doubleheader.
He’s lost his last five starts against the Cubs to fall to 1-7 with a 5.16 ERA in 10 career outings. Bush allowed six earned runs and five hits over 7 1-3 innings of an 11-4 home loss on July 31.
In that game, Bush was opposed by Rich Harden (10-2, 2.04), who will face him again on Thursday. He gave up a run and six hits, while striking out nine over seven innings in his only career appearance against the Brewers.
The Cubs (91-59) have won eight of the right-hander’s 10 starts since he was acquired in a trade from Oakland on July 8. He is 5-1 with a 1.65 ERA, holding opponents to a .169 batting average in that span.
He was efficient again on Thursday, limiting St. Louis to two runs and five hits over six innings of a 3-2 road victory. It was his first appearance since Aug. 29 after skipping his turn in the rotation to arm discomfort.
Harden will try to cool off Fielder, who has hit .483 (14-for-29) with four homers and 10 RBIs during an eight-game hitting streak.