In his brief tenure with the Milwaukee Brewers, Zack Greinke hasn’t had much difficulty winning at Miller Park. Earning victories on the road, though, have proved a little more of a struggle for the right-hander.
Following an impressive season debut, Greinke will begin seeking better results away from home this season while leading the Brewers to their first four-game sweep of the struggling Chicago Cubs on Thursday.
Greinke improved to 12-0 at his home park Saturday by pitching four-hit ball over seven innings in a 6-0 win over St. Louis. He also struck out seven and didn’t issue a walk.
“That’s as good as it gets,” manager Ron Roenicke told the team’s website. “That’s what we saw in spring training, which is tremendous velocity, and life on the velocity. … If he does this for us, all this year, he’s going to have some kind of year.”
The right-hander, though, will head into this game after the Brewers and his agent, Casey Close, broke off negotiations over a new contract extension Tuesday. Greinke had been essentially representing himself until rehiring Close before the start of this season.
Greinke (1-0, 0.00 ERA) will try to increase his value by improving his road record. Since joining Milwaukee before last season, he’s 5-6 with a 4.70 ERA in 13 starts away from home.
Greinke gave up one run over 14 1-3 innings during two home wins over the Cubs last season but was tagged for a season-high eight runs - six earned - over 5 1-3 innings during his only start at Wrigley Field, a 12-7 loss June 16.
He struck out 10 in that game and had 26 in the three matchups, matching his most against one opponent while with the Brewers (4-2).
This time, Greinke will face a team that’s hitting .221 with 53 strikeouts in its first five games. The Cubs (1-5) fanned 12 times during a 2-1 loss Wednesday.
George Kottaras hit the tiebreaking two-run homer in seventh inning for Milwaukee, which played without Ryan Braun, Corey Hart and catcher Jonathan Lucroy. Hart was given a day off because of his surgically repaired right knee, while Braun and Lucroy are dealing with minor injuries in their torsos.
All three might be back in the lineup Thursday against Matt Garza (0-0, 3.00). The right-hander had a solid season debut Saturday, giving up a two-run homer and five hits over six innings, but the Cubs bullpen allowed five runs during a 7-4 defeat.
“I made one mistake. It’s pretty good for the first time out,” Garza told the team’s website. “It’s frustrating because I set goals for myself and I didn’t reach them. I want to at least pitch into the seventh every time out.”
Garza won both of his home starts against the Brewers last season - his first in the NL -despite giving up five runs over six innings June 16. He yielded one unearned run and struck out 10 during one of his two complete games in 2011, a 7-1 victory over Milwaukee on Sept. 21.
Garza is 2-1 with a 4.35 ERA in three overall matchups with the Brewers.