While their bullpen hasn't always been at its best, the Chicago Cubs have gotten a number of solid starts in recent games. Just not from Chris Volstad.
The struggling right-hander will seek to produce a breakthrough outing while helping the Cubs snap a nine-game road losing streak to the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday afternoon.
Chicago's rotation has posted a 2.48 ERA over the last 18 games after putting up a 4.98 ERA during a 3-11 start, but Volstad (0-4, 6.55 ERA) hasn't given up fewer than four runs in any of his last five outings.
The right-hander allowed five runs over five innings last Saturday during a 5-1 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers and dropped to 0-9 in 17 starts since July 10. He gave up just four hits in that game but two were during a three-run second inning and the other two during a two-run fifth.
Opponents are batting .203 against the right-hander with no one on base, but Volstad is struggling out of the stretch - opponents are hitting .362 with a runner on base and .424 with someone in scoring position.
"It's probably more of an approach," Volstad told the team's website. "Just execution, basically. I don't know if that it can be mental or what. It could be mechanical, too, though. ... It's something we've got to look at, because there's obviously something going on when runners get on."
Volstad has been better at limiting Milwaukee (14-18) over his career as he's 1-1 with a 2.30 ERA in five matchups. He gave up a season-low three runs April 9 at Wrigley Field in his Cubs debut, but the game was tied when he exited after the fifth inning of a 7-5 loss.
For the right-hander to get that elusive victory, he might need a better performance from his bullpen, which blew a pair of leads in an 8-7 loss in 13 innings. Lendy Castillo, the last reliever available, failed to record an out in the final frame and gave up a bases-loaded single to Corey Hart to end the game.
"There was a lot going on," Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke said. "A lot of really good things, quite a few not-so-good things on both sides. It was an interesting ballgame. I didn't know what was going to happen."
The win was only the Brewers' third in nine games this month, and Shaun Marcum (1-1, 3.41) will try to lead his team to another victory with another strong outing against the Cubs.
The right-hander is 3-0 with a 2.70 ERA in three career starts versus Chicago (13-19) and allowed three runs and five over six innings while outdueling Volstad on April 9.
Marcum, though, hasn't earned a win since that outing and hasn't received a decision in his last four starts. He pitched seven scoreless innings in San Diego on May 1 and gave up three runs over six frames Sunday in San Francisco.
The Cubs' Starlin Castro, who is riding a 10-game hit streak, is 1 for 10 in his career against the right-hander, and David DeJesus is 1 for 19, his worst showing against any pitcher he's faced at least 19 times.
Former Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez is 6 for 14 (.429) against Volstad.