The Chicago Cubs may have opened the door for the Milwaukee Brewers to close the gap in the National League Central nearly two weeks ago, but they are doing their best to slam it shut with just a little over a week remaining in the season. The Cubs attempt to lower their magic number for clinching the division from five Saturday when they play the third of four games in Milwaukee against the Brewers.
Tommy La Stella drew a bases-loaded walk to plate the winning run and send Milwaukee to defeat in 10 innings for the second straight night with Friday’s 5-4 victory, pushing the Brewers 5 1/2 games back in the Central while maintaining a five-game edge on second-place St. Louis. The Cubs have won nine of 10 since allowing Milwaukee to crawl within two games after the Brewers outscored them 20-3 in a sweep at Wrigley Field from Sept. 8-10. While the prospects of winning the division appear to be dwindling rapidly for Milwaukee, it trails Colorado by only two games for the second and final wild-card spot after the Rockies defeated San Diego late Friday night. However, the Brewers have dropped three in a row in heartbreaking fashion, falling in extra innings in each of their first two games in this series after losing on a walk-off home run in Pittsburgh on Wednesday to wrap up a six-game road trip.
TV: 1:05 p.m. ET, Fox
PITCHING MATCHUP: Cubs RH Kyle Hendricks (7-5, 3.22 ERA) vs. Brewers LH Brent Suter (3-2, 3.41)
Hendricks recorded his seventh consecutive quality start in a win against St. Louis last Saturday, allowing one run over 7 2/3 innings to improve to 3-2 with a 2.42 ERA in 11 outings since returning from the disabled list on July 24. Over that span, the Dartmouth product has yet to surrender more than three runs - a feat he failed to accomplish four times in 11 tries before his absence. Hendricks took the loss on Sept. 10 against the Brewers after giving up three runs across six frames.
Suter was masterful in his longest outing since returning from the DL earlier this month, permitting only five singles while striking out four and walking none over five scoreless innings to get the victory Monday at Pittsburgh. The 28-year-old Chicago native has not been scored upon in three of his four September appearances (three starts), posting a 1.50 ERA in the process. Suter earned the win at home against the Cubs as well on July 28, tossing seven scoreless innings in a 2-1 triumph.
1. The Cubs have won 22 of their last 32 road games since going 18-25 in their first 43 contests away from Wrigley field.
2. Milwaukee OF Domingo Santana went 0-for-3 on Friday, snapping his three-game homer streak, four-game RBI streak and nine-game hitting streak.
3. Chicago has slugged 212 home runs this season, tied for the second-highest total in club history (235 in 2004).
PREDICTION: Brewers 4, Cubs 3