It took 16 starts for Marco Estrada to earn his first victory of the season. He hopes the second comes much quicker as he takes the hill on Monday night for the Milwaukee Brewers for the first of four straight games against the Chicago Cubs.
Estrada earned his first win since Aug. 23 of last year when he scattered two hits over six scoreless innings to beat the Cubs on Tuesday. The right-hander walked one and struck out nine, moving to 1-5 with a 4.23 earned run average in 22 total appearances this year, including the 16 starts.
Estrada, 29, also earned his first career decision over the Cubs, who he is now 1-0 against with a 4.91 ERA in seven career meetings, including two starts.
"It actually felt like I got my first major league victory," Estrada said. "The guys played amazing. We hit well and it felt finally good to get that win."
Cubs starter Justin Germano did not have the same luck as Estrada in his start against the Brewers last Monday and in fact turned in his worst outing of the season. The righty was charged with seven runs on eight hits and a walk over 4 2/3 frames of a 9-5 loss.
Milwaukee put up eight runs in the fifth inning of that win, with catcher Jonathan Lucroy hitting his second homer of the game in the frame off reliever Jeff Beliveau. Lucroy had taken Germano deep in the second inning.
"I don't like giving up homers, obviously. I got ground balls that last inning, but they found holes," Germano said. "I tried to limit the damage that last inning, I just want to be as consistent as I can and put the bad games behind me."
The 30-year-old righty has gone 2-3 with a 5.40 ERA in six games (5 starts) with the Cubs after beginning the season with the Boston Red Sox and is 1-2 in his career versus the Brewers with a 6.87 ERA.
The Brewers swept last week's series with the Cubs and have taken five straight in the series overall. They have won 17 of last 22 encounters overall.
Following the sweep, Milwaukee took two of three from the Pittsburgh Pirates, winning Sunday's rubber match by a 7-0 margin. Carlos Gomez belted a three-run homer and Aramis Ramirez added a two-run blast.
Mark Rogers followed up his first career victory with another triumph, scattering three hits over five scoreless innings.
"We need to be able to beat the teams in front of us. Not just for now, but for next year and whenever we get in series that are tight," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said.
The Cubs also won a rubber match on Sunday, blanking the Colorado Rockies 5-0 in a rain-shortened, eight-inning victory.
After waiting out a 2-hour, 23-minute rain delay, Chris Volstad logged 6 2/3 scoreless innings for his first win since July 10, 2011.
"It's only fitting that the day took pretty long," Volstad said after ending a string of 24 straight winless outings.
Darwin Barney knocked in two runs for the Cubs.