Brewers-Cubs Preview

The Associated Press

Although Ryan Braun extended his impressive hitting streak against the Chicago Cubs, the Milwaukee Brewers couldn't continue their mastery of the NL Central rivals in his return to the lineup.

Now Milwaukee appears to be in a good position to bounce back with Marco Estrada taking the mound.

As Estrada looks to remain undefeated versus Chicago, the last-place Cubs seek their first home series win over the Brewers since September 2011 in Sunday's finale of this three-game set.

After sitting out a series-opening 4-3 win Friday to rest his previously strained oblique, Braun singled in his first at-bat in Saturday's 3-0 loss to push his hitting streak to 13 games against the Cubs (14-27).

The five-time All-Star has gone 26 for 52 with five homers and 18 RBIs over that stretch. He's also hitting a major league-best .381 in 197 career at-bats at Wrigley Field since his 2007 rookie season.

Milwaukee (27-16) had won 24 of the previous 32 meetings before Welington Castillo and Starlin Castro drove in all the runs starter Edwin Jackson needed Saturday with first-inning doubles off former Chicago hurler Matt Garza.

The Cubs snapped a three-game losing streak with their third victory in 13 games.

"I think we need to play better, we need to go out and continue to perform and do the little things," manager Rick Renteria told the team's official website. "We have to start doing some things here at home, overcoming some deficits sometimes."

They are in position for their first home series win against the first-place Brewers since taking two of three from Sept. 19-21, 2011. Getting there, however, won't be an easy task against Estrada (3-1, 3.28 ERA), who is 5-0 in his career versus Chicago and has a 2.56 ERA over his last six meetings - all Milwaukee victories.

Though he didn't have his best stuff Tuesday, Estrada gave up one run with eight strikeouts while throwing a season-high 112 pitches over six innings in a 5-2 home win over Pittsburgh.

"Threw some great pitches but just couldn't get it locked in where he could just go through an easy inning," manager Ron Roenicke said. "He did a great job of making the pitches when he needed to and finished up with a real nice ballgame."

The right-hander allowed three runs and four hits over 7 2-3 innings in a 5-3 home win over the Cubs on April 26. Travis Wood (3-4, 4.91) also opposed him in that contest, giving up five runs over 5 2-3 innings.

After going 1-2 with a 2.52 ERA and four walks in his first four starts, Wood has struggled with a 2-2 record and a 7.54 mark with 11 walks over his last four. He allowed five runs and walked three over six innings Monday, but was backed by a rare scoring surge in Chicago's 17-5 win at St. Louis.

The left-hander is 0-3 with a 4.50 ERA in four meetings with the Brewers since joining the Cubs. Khris Davis went 2 for 3 with a home run off him last month at Miller Park, while Braun is 4 for 11 with a homer in the matchup since 2012.

Carlos Gomez, who has three hits in 16 at-bats versus Wood, hopes to return after he was a late scratch Saturday because of lower back tightness. The leadoff man leads Milwaukee with nine homers and is tied for the team lead with 21 RBIs.

Castro, who has gone 5 for 12 against Estrada the past two seasons, is batting .321 with four home runs and 13 RBIs in 20 games since moving into the cleanup spot.

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