The Milwaukee Brewers aim to extend their winning streak over the Chicago Cubs to eight straight meetings on Wednesday night when the two NL Central residents play the third contest of a four-game series.
The Brewers have dominated the Cubs over the past 13 months, having not lost to them since June 5 of this season while winning 19 of the past 24 encounters overall.
After breaking out late to take Monday's opener 15-4, Milwaukee posted a more modest 4-1 win on Tuesday that featured big efforts from shortstop Jeff Bianchi and starter Yovani Gallardo.
Bianchi hit his first career homer, a three-run shot in the second inning off Cubs starter Travis Wood that came in his 20th career at-bat. Bianchi took a 3-0 fastball over the left-field wall to supply the bulk of the offense.
"With the pitcher on deck, I was looking for a pitch out over the plate that I could drive. (Wood) left me a fastball up and I was able to capitalize on it," said Bianchi, who was recalled from the minors on Saturday.
That was enough to Gallardo to finish off a perfect August with his sixth straight winning start. He yielded just the run -- on a solo homer by Wood -- over seven innings with nine strikeouts.
Gallardo's performance gave Milwaukee its seventh victory in eight games overall.
"When (Gallardo) wants to pitch ... he's tough," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "When the chips are down, I'd take him on the mound over anybody."
Wood hit his third career homer, but lost his eighth straight decision in a row and the Cubs lost for the seventh time in nine games.
On the same day he agreed to a seven-year deal worth a reported $60 million, Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro went 1-for-4. He is hitting .276 this season with 12 homers and 63 RBI.
Getting the start tonight for the Brewers is Mike Fiers, who snapped a two- start skid with a win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday.
After allowing 12 runs over seven innings in the consecutive losses, the right-handed Fiers held Pittsburgh to three runs on five hits and two walks over 6 2/3 innings, striking out 10 batters. He has fanned 96 in 93 2/3 innings this year, going 7-6 with a 2.98 earned run average in 16 games (15 starts).
"I had some energy coming out there tonight and wanted to get to them early," said the 27-year-old. "They have some good hitters over there and I wanted to keep the off balance as much as I could."
Fiers will make his first career start versus the Cubs.
Chicago counters with Jeff Samardzija, who has given up two earned runs or fewer in three of four and six of his last eight starts. That was not enough to get him a decision on Friday against the Colorado Rockies after the righty allowed three runs -- two earned -- on six hits, two homers and two walks. He also struck out seven in his team's eventual 5-3 win.
The 27-year-old is 8-11 with a 4.09 ERA in 25 starts this season. That includes one encounter with the Brewers and he allowed a run over five innings of three-hit ball while not getting a decision on May 13 in Milwaukee.