Cubs aim to slow Brewers’ march toward division title

Sports

The Milwaukee Brewers look to move closer to the National League Central crown when they host the Chicago Cubs on Friday night in the opener of a three-game series.

The Brewers (89-57) own a 12 1/2-game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals as they approach the clinching of their fourth straight postseason berth.

Milwaukee is opening a 10-game homestand after being swept in a two-game set by the Detroit Tigers. The offense was missing in action as the Brewers totaled just one run and seven hits.

“We didn’t spin the bats well in these two games in Detroit,” Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said. “I can’t put my finger on it; we just didn’t perform well offensively.”

The Brewers were 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position and had four hits while losing 1-0 in 11 innings on Tuesday. They had three hits in a 4-1 loss on Wednesday.

“Winning a Major League Baseball game is one of the toughest things to do,” Milwaukee right-hander Brandon Woodruff said after taking the loss on Wednesday. “Look, there’s going to be some tough games, and we know that. We’re getting prepared for that so hopefully we can play some good baseball at home and clinch and get this thing out of the way so we can get focused on the postseason.”

There will be no postseason appearance for the Cubs (66-81), who have dropped five of their past six games. Chicago’s next setback will guarantee the club’s first losing campaign since 2014.

The Cubs held a 7-0 lead on Wednesday night against host Philadelphia before the Phillies erupted for 17 runs over a five-inning span to notch a 17-8 victory.

Chicago has allowed an average of 8.8 runs during the six-game stretch.

Cubs outfielder Ian Happ is hitless in six at-bats over the past two games, but he has excelled in September. He is batting .357 (20-for-56) with five homers and 13 RBIs this month to raise his season average to .221.

“Consistency is huge — for me, especially in how the year has gone to this point,” Happ said. “Having that belief in myself that at some point things are going to turn. Some of those hits are going to fall and things are going to start going my way, and that’s kind of when it happened.”

Zach Davies (6-11, 5.40 ERA) will be on the mound Friday for the Cubs. He has served up a career-worst 24 homers in 30 starts.

The 28-year-old right-hander is 0-5 in nine starts since last winning on July 23 against the Arizona Diamondbacks. He has allowed 15 homers during the stretch while compiling an 8.31 ERA.

Davies gave up five runs, four hits and three walks in two innings while losing to the San Francisco Giants on Saturday.

Davies, who pitched for the Brewers from 2015 to 2019, faced his former team for the first time on June 29, when he lost 2-1. He gave up two runs and two hits in four innings.

Kolten Wong (2-for-17) and Eduardo Escobar (2-for-11) have each homered against Davies.

Right-hander Adrian Houser (9-6, 3.25) will be on the mound for the Brewers. The 28-year-old is looking to win a third straight start.

He tossed a three-hit shutout against the Cardinals on Sept. 4, then allowed just one hit in six innings while beating Cleveland on Sept. 10. He gave up two unearned runs against the Indians and walked five while striking out five.

Houser, who has won six of his past seven decisions, hasn’t faced the Cubs this season. He is 1-2 with a 4.91 ERA in nine career appearances (four starts) vs. Chicago.

David Bote and Happ (three RBIs) are each 3-for-7 against Houser.

–Field Level Media

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