Hapless Cubs start road trip in Milwaukee

Coming off a successful road trip, the NL Central-leading game series versus the Chicago Cubs tonight.

Milwaukee went 5-2 on a seven-game trek, but lost two of the last three portions of a four-game set at Pittsburgh, including Wednesday's 2-0 loss. It was held to five singles and went 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position. Ryan Braun had a team-high two hits for the Brewers, who are 9 1/2 games ahead of St. Louis for the division lead.

Brewers starter Shaun Marcum surrendered both runs in six innings of work to absorb the loss.

"For the most part I thought I made good pitches when I had to," said Marcum. "But they took advantage of the chances when they got them and two runs was enough today."

Marcum's last loss came on June 29 against the Yankees. He went 4-0 in his previous nine starts. Despite the loss, Milwaukee has still won 10 of the 12 games against Pittsburgh this season.

The Brewers, who are 47-16 in Brew City, will also host St. Louis on this homestand and are slated to send veteran lefty Randy Wolf to the mound Friday. Wolf is 4-0 in his last five starts -- all Milwaukee wins -- and did not record a decision in Saturday's 11-9 victory at the New York Mets. He was roughed up for five runs and eight hits in 6 1/3 innings and is 10-8 with a 3.45 ERA in 26 starts this season.

Wolf has pitched well at home this season, going 6-2 in 12 starts, but is only 5-10 with a 4.15 ERA in 21 career starts against the Cubs.

Chicago will begin a six-game road trip tonight against the Brewers and Giants, and completed a seven-game homestand with a 3-4 mark. In Thursday's 8-3 loss to Atlanta in the finale of a four-game series at Wrigley Field, Matt Garza was dealt the loss for yielding six runs -- three earned -- and eight hits in five innings.

"Garza just fought with himself all day," Cubs manager Mike Quade said. "He just never really could get on track and get in sync. It just wasn't his day."

Marlon Byrd hit a solo homer and Carlos Pena had two hits for the Cubs, who have lost six of nine games. Aramis Ramirez doubled to extend his hitting streak to 14 games and is batting .537 during the tear. He needs one more home run to join Hall of Famer Billy Williams as the only players in Cubs history to hit at least 30 doubles and 25 homers six times.

Taking the mound for Chicago tonight will be Rodrigo Lopez. Lopez was 2-0 in three starts before losing to St. Louis in Sunday's 6-2 setback and was reached for five runs and 10 hits, including four homers, in 5 1/3 innings. He is 4-4 with a 4.97 ERA in 20 games (10 starts) this season.

Lopez, a righty, owns a 1-1 mark and a 5.19 ERA in six career games (4 starts) against the Brewers.

Milwaukee is 6-4 against the Cubs this season and is aiming for its sixth straight win over Chicago at Miller Park.