Cubs-Brewers Preview

The Associated Press

In Milwaukee's series opener against the Chicago Cubs, Brewers starter Mark Rogers earned his first career win.

Marco Estrada has won before, but it's been a while.

Estrada tries to pick up his first victory in almost exactly one year when he takes the ball Tuesday night against the Cubs at Miller Park.

Jonathan Lucroy hit two home runs and drove in four while Carlos Gomez also went deep for Milwaukee (55-66) in Monday's 9-5 victory over the Cubs. The game took a turn in the fifth inning when the Brewers scored eight runs - one fewer than they'd plated in their previous three games combined.

Milwaukee, which has already matched last season's loss total, won for the fourth time in 11 games as the big inning made a winner out of Rogers, who was making his seventh career start.

Estrada (0-5, 4.52 ERA) has made 15 starts and 14 relief appearances since his last win, Aug. 23 in Pittsburgh. His 15 consecutive starts without a victory is the longest drought by a Brewer since Chris Capuano went a franchise-record 18 in a row in 2007.

Estrada wasn't particularly sharp in Milwaukee's 7-4 comeback win over Philadelphia on Thursday, needing 108 pitches to get through five innings. He gave up four runs, eight hits and three walks while striking out one.

In his lone start of the season against Chicago on May 13, the right-hander gave up two runs and five hits in six innings and didn't factor in the decision of an 8-2 loss.

The Cubs (47-74) were six games under .500 then, but have since fallen a season-worst 27 games below the break-even mark - their lowest point since finishing the 2006 season 66-96. Monday's defeat was their 16th in 20 games.

One highlight for Chicago in the series opener was Josh Vitters hitting his first career homer in his 11th game. The third overall selection of the 2007 draft came in batting .091 with 11 strikeouts in 33 at-bats.

The Cubs, who have already called up several young players as they continue to build for the future, will have their sixth player make his major league debut Tuesday when they summon Chris Rusin to start.

A fourth-round draft pick in 2009, Rusin went 8-8 with a 4.59 ERA in 24 starts with Triple-A Iowa this season, including a 1-0 mark and 1.93 ERA in three outings this month.

The left-hander will be the 11th starting pitcher used by the Cubs, their most since using a franchise record-tying 15 in 2006. His status in the rotation beyond Tuesday is unclear.

"If he's going to get a longer look, he's going to have to replace somebody, or go with six guys in September or something like that," manager Dale Sveum told the Cubs' official website. "We have to decide what we're going to do."

If Rusin can keep Ryan Braun in check he could get some consideration to make more starts.

The reigning NL MVP is 9 for 20 with four homers and six RBIs in his last five games, and is batting .538 (14 for 26) with five home runs against lefties since July 24.

Lucroy has frustrated the Cubs all season, batting .450 with 10 RBIs in his last six contests in the series. He's 5 for 10 in his last three games overall.

"I'm just trying to be consistent and have good at-bats and hit the ball hard somewhere," he said.

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