The Milwaukee Brewers have held at least a share of the NL Central lead for nearly the entire season but that run is in jeopardy following a dismal end to this past month.
The Brewers will seek to begin September with a much-needed victory Monday against the division's cellar dweller, the Chicago Cubs, and start to build some momentum for a pivotal series later this week.
Milwaukee (73-63) hasn't been out of first place since April 4 and had sole possession of the Central lead dating back to July 21 until Sunday. The Brewers dropped into a tie with St. Louis after a 15-5 drubbing in San Francisco and the Cardinals' 9-6 victory over the Cubs (61-76).
Milwaukee was outscored 31-8 in its three games in northern California and has dropped eight of 10 after winning 12 of 18.
"It's just a bad series. We didn't do anything well. We didn't pitch well. We didn't play defense and didn't swing the bat well," manager Ron Roenicke said. "We're still OK. We can turn this thing around in a hurry."
The Brewers will try to avoid a sixth consecutive road loss for the first time since dropping 11 in a row July 20-Aug. 11, 2012, in their opener at Wrigley Field. After playing the Cubs three times, Milwaukee returns home for a four-game set against St. Louis that begins Thursday.
The Brewers are just 7-6 versus Chicago this season and have gone 3-4 at Wrigley. They needed a 6-2 victory Aug. 14 to split a four-game set in their most recent visit.
Carlos Gomez's status is considered doubtful for the beginning of this series. The center fielder left Sunday's defeat with a sore left wrist not long after recording his only hit in his last 15 at-bats.
Jimmy Nelson (2-5, 4.10 ERA) will try to assist his potentially short-handed team and end a string of three consecutive losses. The rookie right-hander gave up four runs - two earned - over five innings in a 4-1 defeat at San Diego on Tuesday.
Nelson will make his first start against Chicago and will likely face Cubs prospect Jorge Soler in his home debut. The outfielder is 8 for 15 with three homers and seven RBIs in his first four major league games, but did not play Sunday.
Chicago was poised to win three of four over the Cardinals but blew an early five-run lead in the finale. The Cubs had won nine of 13 before their back-to-back losses in St. Louis.
"We take a loss and we're not happy about it," said reliever Carlos Villanueva, who gave up the go-ahead runs in the eighth inning. "Our goal down the stretch is to break as many hearts as possible and we play a lot of teams that are in contention now and that's what we're going to learn from - winning those games. We've got a month left so we'll see how we do."
Jacob Turner (4-8, 5.84) is slated to make his second start for the Cubs since being acquired from Miami on Aug. 8. He gave up six runs - three earned - over 3 2-3 innings in a 7-5 loss in Cincinnati on Wednesday.
The right-hander is 1-1 with a 2.45 ERA in three career starts against the Brewers and tossed 6 1-3 scoreless innings in a 2-1 victory for the Marlins on May 24.
It's unknown if Chicago slugger Anthony Rizzo, second in the NL with 30 homers, will return Monday after missing six straight games with lower back tightness.
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