(Updated: UPDATING: Standings in Para 2.)
The Milwaukee Brewers showed some signs of life in the series opener and hope to build on that when they visit the National League Central-leading Chicago Cubs on Saturday afternoon for the middle game of the set. Ryan Braun belted his 300th career homer in a 2-0 victory Friday that moved the Brewers within four games of the Cubs in the division and gave them a boost after losing three in a row to last-place Cincinnati.
Braun is batting .336 in his career against Chicago and his two-run blast helped Milwaukee stay three games behind Colorado for the NL’s second wild-card spot. Chase Anderson will pitch in his 100th career contest (99th start) for the Brewers in the middle game of the series while the Cubs counter with lefty Mike Montgomery as they go for a ninth victory in 13 outings. Chicago was shut out for the second time in five contests Friday as it managed five hits against four Milwaukee pitchers and just one for extra bases (Ben Zobrist, double). Kris Bryant had a single for the Cubs and has reached base in 33 straight contests, going 40-for-123 with five homers and 12 RBIs during that stretch.
TV: 4:05 p.m. ET, MLB Network, FSN Wisconsin (Milwaukee), CSN Chicago
PITCHING MATCHUP: Brewers RH Chase Anderson (8-3, 3.06 ERA) vs. Cubs LH Mike Montgomery (5-7, 3.38)
Anderson gave up four runs (three earned) over 5 1/3 innings of a no-decision last time out against Cincinnati and is 3-1 in his last seven outings. The 29-year-old Texan can match his career high with his ninth victory, but has not been as good on the road (4-3, 3.74 ERA) as he has been at home (4-0, 2.40). Bryant is 4-for-11 with three homers against Anderson, who is 2-1 with a 4.44 ERA in five career games against the Cubs.
Montgomery allowed three runs, five hits and one walk over five innings in a loss to Atlanta last time out after winning his previous two outings. The 28-year-old Californian is 4-4 with a 4.17 ERA in 11 starts this year and owns a 1-3 record along with a 2.57 mark in 27 relief appearances. Braun is 4-for-9 with a homer versus Montgomery, who is 1-3 with a 5.11 ERA in 10 outings (three starts) against the Cubs.
1. Chicago RHP Wade Davis has converted all 29 of his save opportunities this season and gave up one run in his last nine outings.
2. The Brewers are 1-50 when trailing after seven innings and 0-52 when behind going into the ninth frame.
3. Cubs C Willson Contreras (hamstring) played a rehab game Friday and will be re-evaluated when he returns to Chicago soon.
PREDICTION: Brewers 5, Cubs 4