Cubs-Brewers Preview

The Associated Press

Dale Sveum watched from the home dugout as the Milwaukee Brewers won eight straight games over the Chicago Cubs at Miller Park last season.

Now managing Chicago, Sveum hopes to see that streak end as a visitor.

The Brewers look to spoil Sveum's return to Milwaukee when the NL Central rivals - both stuck at the bottom of the division - begin a three-game set Friday night.

Sveum was part of Milwaukee's coaching staff for the past six seasons, helping guide the team to the postseason as interim manager in 2008 then becoming the hitting coach before leaving to manage the Cubs this season.

"Yeah, I have a lot of memories there and a lot of friends (in Milwaukee), but when the games start, you don't think about anything like that," Sveum told the Cubs' official website. "You just think about winning the game and managing the baseball game."

The Brewers took three of four from the Cubs from April 9-12 at Wrigley Field, and they won the final eight meetings at Miller Park in 2011 with John Axford picking up the save in each of the last seven.

Axford has converted 49 consecutive save opportunities - the fourth-longest streak in major league history - but he entered in the ninth inning of a scoreless game Wednesday and suffered a 2-1 loss to Cincinnati.

It marked the fourth defeat in five games for the Brewers (13-18), who have gotten off to a disappointing start after making a run to the NL championship series last season.

"The fact we have not played well so far is not for a lack of effort, not for a lack of preparation," Ryan Braun, who hit his 10th home run, told the team's official website. "It's a lack of execution.

"We have to find a way to win games and ultimately to win series."

Braun is 3 for 12 with a homer lifetime against Matt Garza (2-1, 2.67 ERA), who is scheduled to make his first start since April 29 after battling the flu.

Garza would love to replicate his most recent performance, in which he allowed one hit and struck out 10 in seven scoreless innings of a 5-1 win over Philadelphia. He was also stellar against the Brewers on April 12, coming one out shy of a three-hitter in an 8-0 victory.

The right-hander has won his last three starts versus Milwaukee with a 1.90 ERA while striking out 22, but he gave up five runs in 5 2-3 innings of a 6-0 loss April 9, 2011, in his only career outing at Miller Park.

The Cubs (13-18) took two of three from Atlanta this week, winning 1-0 on Wednesday, and they haven't lost consecutive games since a six-game skid April 14-20.

Chicago's last victory in Milwaukee came against Friday's starter Randy Wolf on April 8, 2011.

Wolf (2-3, 6.68) allowed four runs in six innings of a 5-2 loss at San Francisco on Saturday. Since joining the Brewers prior to the 2010 season, he is 1-4 with a 4.23 ERA in six starts against the Cubs.

The left-hander allowed six runs in six innings of a 7-1 loss in his most recent outing versus Chicago on Sept. 21. Garza pitched a complete game and gave up only an unearned run while striking out 10 in that contest.

Alfonso Soriano has homered twice off Wolf in 35 at-bats. Still looking for his first home run of 2012, he's expected to be in the lineup after sitting out Wednesday to rest a sore knee.

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