The Milwaukee Brewers came into this series with the rival Cubs scoring runs at a torrid clip.
Their bats have quickly been silenced by Chicago’s exceptional pitching.
Milwaukee (8-9) entered this series having scored 47 runs while riding a four-game winning streak. The Brewers pounded out 25 hits in crushing Pittsburgh 20-0 Thursday, but have managed 15 hits and two runs in losing the first two games against Chicago (8-10).
After Ryan Dempster(notes) limited Milwaukee to one run in 7 2-3 innings in Friday’s 8-1 win, Ted Lilly(notes) yielded three hits in six shutout innings in a 5-1 victory Saturday. Lilly was making his season debut after recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, and former staff ace Carlos Zambrano(notes) allowed one run in 1 1-3 inning in his first relief appearance in almost eight years.
Cubs manager Lou Piniella decided to move Zambrano to straighten out a shaky bullpen.
If Zambrano can find success in a relief role, Chicago appears to have a solid pitching core with Lilly joining a starting rotation that is already excelling with Dempster, Wells, Carlos Silva(notes) and Tom Gorzelanny(notes).
Wells (1-0, 2.45 ERA) allowed one run and six hits in six innings in a 6-1 loss to New York on Monday, but didn’t receive a decision.
This will be the right-hander’s second start of the season against the Brewers—he left without a decision after giving up four runs and 10 hits with seven strikeouts in 6 1-3 innings of a 7-6 win April 14. He’s fared much better in Milwaukee, going 1-0 with a 0.82 ERA in two starts there.
The Cubs, who took two of three over the Brewers last week in Chicago, have won five of six at Miller Park. They haven’t swept a series there since winning four in row from July 28-31, 2008.
While Chicago’s pitching is leading the way, the offense is showing signs of coming around. The Cubs have won three of four, scoring 22 runs in those victories, after plating six runs during a four-game skid.
Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun is tied for the NL lead with 20 RBIs, but has just one hit in eight at-bats in the first two games of this series after going 8 for 16 with two homers and nine RBIs in the previous four.
Braun has had some success against Wells, though, going 5 for 12 with a double lifetime.
After spending two months on the disabled list with right arm fatigue and posting a career-worst 6.38 ERA last season, Bush has been Milwaukee’s most consistent starter this year. The right-hander scattered three hits in seven scoreless innings in Tuesday’s 8-1 win over Pittsburgh.
Bush opposed Wells last week at Wrigley, and gave up two runs and seven hits in six innings, before the bullpen allowed Chicago to score five.
That was a rare solid start for Bush against the Cubs, against whom he hasn’t had much luck against lately. He’s 1-6 with a 6.39 ERA in 11 starts against Chicago since 2007, with Milwaukee losing nine times.