The Milwaukee Brewers have saved the majority of their runs for the late innings and are on the verge of their first four-game sweep of the Chicago Cubs.
Scoring may be more frequent for both teams if Chicago starter Edwin Jackson can’t end his struggles versus the Milwaukee Brewers and Wily Peralta is unable to overcome his recent woes Wednesday night.
The Brewers (46-61) haven’t let any of the drama surrounding Ryan Braun’s suspension bother them the past two days, as they broke open a scoreless game with a big ninth inning to win 5-0 on Monday before sweeping Tuesday’s day-night doubleheader from their NL Central rivals.
Khris Davis hit a three-run homer in a four-run seventh to give Milwaukee a 6-5 win in Game 1, then Jeff Bianchi hit a two-run single off a diving Starlin Castro’s glove with two out in the ninth of Game 2 for a 3-2 victory.
Milwaukee hasn’t completed a four-game sweep of Chicago since joining the NL in 1997.
”That’s what’s great about this game,” Bianchi said. ”You get a chance in the (top) of the ninth to redeem yourself a little bit for the mistakes early on in the game.”
The Cubs (48-58) have allowed 14 runs in the series, 11 coming in the seventh inning or later. They’ve also been limited to seven runs offensively while being held scoreless in 25 of the series’ 27 innings.
Welington Castillo had three hits and an RBI in Game 1, and David DeJesus hit a two-run double in the nightcap after adding an RBI in the first contest.
“We had the bullpen set up the way we wanted it with some guys down and obviously just couldn’t get it done,” manager Dale Sveum said.
The Cubs’ starters have a 1.35 ERA over their last five games, but the bullpen has a 10.57 ERA with two blown saves in this series. They will look to Jackson (6-11, 4.89 ERA) on Wednesday to continue his solid second half.
Jackson pitched well again Friday, allowing two runs in 6 2-3 innings before the Cubs rallied for a 3-2 win at San Francisco. He’s 3-1 with a 2.51 ERA over his last five starts.
“Statistically, I’ve always been a second-half guy,” Jackson said. “Sometimes the ball rolls in your favor, sometimes it doesn’t. I don’t feel like I’ve made any huge changes. I’m just trying to attack the strike zone.”
The right-hander has had a difficult time with Milwaukee this season, though, dropping all three starts while posting a 6.48 ERA.
Peralta (7-10, 4.54) has fared better against the Cubs - going 1-1 with a 3.44 ERA in three starts - though he hopes this one goes better than the last. He gave up seven runs - three earned - in five innings of a 7-2 loss to Chicago on June 27.
The right-hander had gone 3-1 with a 0.87 ERA in his previous six starts before giving up eight runs - five earned - in just 3 2-3 innings of an 8-3 loss to Colorado on Friday.
”It was a tough outing, man,” Peralta said. “The starts before I was doing good because I was able to keep the fastball down. “I (didn’t get) my slider, so I just leave a lot of fastballs up in the zone.”
Milwaukee has won seven of the last nine matchups with Chicago, but it still trails the fourth-place Cubs by 2 1/2 games at the bottom of the Central.