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Streaking Gallardo aims to pitch Brewers to sweep of Cubs

Yovani Gallardo goes for a fifth straight victory on Wednesday afternoon as Milwaukee closes out a three-game series against the Chicago Cubs.

Gallardo's win streak began on July 31, a few days after ace Zack Greinke was traded to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. He has gone at least seven innings in each start while pitching to a 1.88 earned run average.

Brewers manager Ron Roenicke noted after Gallardo's most recent start that the right-hander has stepped up since the trade.

"I don't know if that's the reason why, but he been on a roll and really has done well for a while. I hope he does this the rest of the season," Roenicke said.

Gallardo stretched his winning streak with a victory over the Philadelphia Phillies last Friday, scattering a run on four hits and two walks in seven frames of work. He also struck out nine to improve to 12-8 with a 3.67 ERA in 25 starts this season.

The 26-year-old is 5-2 with a 3.15 ERA in 12 career outings against the Cubs, splitting two starts this year. Gallardo beat them in Chicago in his second start of 2012 with seven innings of one-run ball, but took a home loss on June 5 after yielding five runs over six innings with 10 strikeouts.

Chicago starter Travis Wood has headed in the opposite direction of Gallardo and hopes to get on track today.

The left-hander won his fourth straight start on July 6, but has dropped six decisions in a row over seven starts since. He has allowed at least six earned runs four times over that span, including Friday against the Cincinnati Reds.

Wood yielded three homers and seven runs -- six earned -- over five innings of work, falling to 4-9 with a 4.83 ERA in 17 starts.

The 25-year-old has never lost to the Brewers, who he faces for the first time this year, going 3-0 with a 3.16 ERA in five games (4 starts).

The Brewers had lost five of seven before winning Monday's opener, then put themselves in position for the sweep today with a 5-2 victory on Tuesday. Marco Estrada won his first game of the season, fanning nine in six scoreless innings.

"It actually felt like I got my first major league victory," Estrada said following his 16th start of the season. "The guys played amazing. We hit well and it felt finally good to get that win."

Jonathan Lucroy clubbed a two-run double and Corey Hart added an RBI single for the Brewers, who have won nine of 12 versus the Cubs this season and 16 of the last 21 encounters overall. They have also won 14 of the last 16 matchups at home.

Chris Rusin pitched well in his major league debut for the Cubs, but was tagged with the loss after giving up one run on one hit and two walks with four strikeouts over five frames.

"I felt good, but I couldn't get my secondary stuff over and that put me in a hole," Rusin admitted. "It was a good opportunity for me. I was nervous in the first inning, but I was able to get over it."

Alfonso Soriano knocked in a run and registered two of Chicago's four hits, but the Cubs lost their third straight game.

These two clubs will meet again for four games in Chicago next week from Aug. 27-30.