Two starting pitchers hope their respective winless droughts will come to an end at Wrigley Field.
Edwin Jackson and Tom Koehler each look to leave behind a miserable August when the Miami Marlins seek their third straight win on Tuesday against the Chicago Cubs.
Since pitching a season-high eight innings while beating Milwaukee 6-1 on July 31, Jackson (7-14, 4.90 ERA) is 0-3 with a 5.97 ERA.
Jackson took his third loss in five starts Wednesday when he allowed four runs - two earned - in 6 2-3 innings of a 4-0 loss to Los Angeles. He allowed two solo homers - only the second time he has yielded two homers in 26 starts - and added to his own woes with a throwing error on a sacrifice bunt that allowed another run to score.
"That's just a play I have to make," Jackson said. "But you just have to try not to think about it, get back on the mound and continue to come at them and battle."
Left-handed batters tore Jackson apart in August, hitting .404 (21 for 52) with eight extra-base hits in those five starts. He had limited those hitters to .247 in his first 21 outings.
Jackson lost all three of his starts against the Marlins in 2012 and failed to record a decision in his only start against them this season, surrendering three runs in six innings on April 25. He is 1-6 with a 6.39 ERA in eight starts and nine lifetime appearances versus Miami.
Koehler (3-9, 4.72) hasn't won since August 1, going 0-3 with a 5.93 ERA over his last five starts.
During that stretch, right-handed batters have hit .328 against him, including 5 for 12 in his last start Thursday against Washington, which tagged him for six runs and seven hits in five innings of a 9-0 loss. Run support has also been an issue for Koehler, as the Marlins have provided him only 42 runs in his 18 starts - 10 coming in the last five starts.
The right-hander gave the Marlins (51-85) a chance to take an early lead, stranding five Nationals runners the first three innings, but they failed to take advantage.
"We're not doing the things we need to do to keep the momentum in the game, to come out and score early and take some of the pressure off our pitching," Miami manager Mike Redmond said Thursday.
Koehler, who allowed 10 home runs over his first 17 starts, surrendered two to the Nationals, accounting for five of the six runs he gave up.
The Marlins' offense has broken out a bit. After scoring three or fewer runs in nine consecutive games, they have gotten at least four in their last three with the help of five home runs. Pitcher Henderson Alvarez helped his own cause for a victory Monday, hitting a go-ahead three-run shot in the second inning that stood in a 4-3 win over Chicago (58-79) on Monday.
"He swings the bat well," Redmond said. "I don't know that you could ever predict that with a pitcher, but he goes up there and he's very athletic."
Christian Yelich, who accounted for the other run Monday with a solo shot, is 10 for 22 (.455) with two home runs in his last six games.