With Carlos Gomez suspended and Aramis Ramirez on the disabled list, the Milwaukee Brewers are having a difficult time generating runs heading into a matchup with one of the top starters in the majors this season.
As Gomez serves one more game, Milwaukee will try to build on a dramatic victory in its last contest as it takes on Cubs ace Jeff Samardzija in Friday's series opener at Wrigley Field.
The Brewers (26-15) totaled three runs and 11 hits in a 17-inning stretch against Pittsburgh before rallying in the ninth inning Thursday with two walks and two singles en route to a 4-3 victory.
Khris Davis delivered a walk-off two-run single as first-place Milwaukee won for the fourth time in five games.
"He's got some big hits for us," manager Ron Roenicke told the team's official website of Davis, who went 4 for 9 in the three-game series. "When you look at his overall numbers and they're not where he would like them to be, or us, but he's got some big hits."
Ryan Braun started Thursday's rally with a leadoff single in the ninth and has gone 3 for 10 in three games since returning from a strained oblique. He's 25 for 48 with five homers and 18 RBIs in his last 12 games against NL-worst Chicago (13-26).
The Brewers may need him to continue that hot hitting in this series with Gomez out because of his role in a fight with the Pirates on April 20 and Ramirez nursing a strained hamstring. Gomez and Ramirez are tied for the team lead with 21 RBIs, while Gomez has a club-best nine home runs.
Milwaukee, which took two of three from the Cubs at Miller Park from April 25-27, looks to avoid its fifth loss in six road games as it opens a 10-game trip with three in Chicago.
The Brewers are 23-8 in their last 31 against the Cubs, but might not have it easy against Samardzija (0-3, 1.45 ERA).
The right-hander ranks second in the major leagues in ERA, yet is winless in his eight starts due to the second-lowest run-support average in baseball at 1.93. He's the first pitcher since at least 1900 to give up three or fewer runs in his first eight starts and not get a victory.
He did not get a decision Saturday, when he allowed two hits over six scoreless innings in a 2-0 loss at Atlanta.
Samardzija, whose last win came Aug. 24, has gone 0-3 with a 3.08 ERA in six career starts against the Brewers. Braun is 7 for 16 with two home runs in their matchups.
"We just have to score some runs - the guy's giving up less than two runs a game for nine innings," infielder Darwin Barney told the team's official website. "If we come out and put up three or four, he'll get a win."
Milwaukee's Kyle Lohse (4-1, 2.75) will try to win his fifth consecutive decision, though he hasn't earned a victory in his last three outings. He gave up three runs - two earned - in six innings of Saturday's 5-4 home win over the New York Yankees.
The right-hander hasn't pitched well in recent visits to Wrigley, going 1-2 with a 6.00 ERA in his last five starts.
Anthony Rizzo went 7 for 11 with two doubles, Junior Lake was 4 for 8 with a home run and Nate Schierholtz 4 for 12 with two homers against Lohse in 2013.
The Cubs, off to their worst start since 2002, have dropped nine of 11 following Thursday's 5-3 loss in St. Louis.