(SportsNetwork.com) - Worst meets first in the National League Central standings on Monday night when the Chicago Cubs take on the visiting Milwaukee Brewers in the opener of a four-game series at Wrigley Field.
Milwaukee went 4-2 on its recent homestand, which concluded with Sunday's 5-1 setback to the Dodgers.
The Brewers offense managed only a first-inning run against Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw, who went eight innings and yielded only six hits. Brewers starter Jimmy Nelson took the loss despite giving up only two runs in six frames.
Milwaukee begins the day with a two-game lead in the NL Central standings, while last-place Chicago sits 14 games off the pace. Still, manager Ron Roenicke said his team knows better than to take any opponent lightly.
"These guys realize: We have been really good, and we go into Chicago, and we get beat," Roenicke said. "There's no teams you can take lightly. For one, the pitching staffs are too good in baseball now. It's not just the team you're playing. If you face a good pitcher that night and he's on and you don't score, you're going to lose.
"We realize that if we're not on our game, it doesn't matter who we're playing, we're going to get beat."
Chicago staved off a three-game sweep against Tampa Bay with a 3-2 win in 12 innings on Sunday. Anthony Rizzo came through with the game-winning RBI single off Cesar Ramos with one out and runners on second and third. Chris Coghlan tied the game with an RBI triple in the seventh.
Jake Arrieta gets the start for Chicago and is coming off his worst showing of the season. The right-hander scattered a career-high 13 hits and a season-high nine runs over five innings.
Prior to that outing, he had posted 10 straight quality starts. Arrieta has been tough to beat at Wrigley, where he is 2-0 with a 1.85 ERA in seven starts.
For Milwaukee, Yovani Gallardo also looks to rebound from a sub-par performance his last time out. The right-hander lasted just four innings against San Francisco on Wednesday as he gave up three first-inning runs. Gallardo went on to walk four batters and gave up four earned runs on nine hits to drop to 6-6 on the season.
Prior to those first-inning runs, Gallardo had a 16 2/3-inning scoreless streak.
"The past few starts, I think, everything was right in place," Gallardo said. "But you know what? That's how this game is. Sometimes there are certain things you can't explain."
Milwaukee has a slim 5-4 lead in the season series with Chicago.