Brewers try to maintain top spot in NL Central vs. Cubs

( - It has been nearly five months since the Milwaukee Brewers have held a spot other than first place in the National League Central.

If they can't get on track soon, that could change as early as today.

The Brewers try to avoid a sixth straight loss on Monday afternoon when they begin a three-game series with the Chicago Cubs in rookie Jorge Soler's Wrigley Field debut.

Milwaukee has been alone or tied for first in the division every day since April 5, but Sunday's 15-5 loss was not only the club's eighth in 10 games, but it also allowed the St. Louis Cardinals to pull into a tie for the division lead.

The Cardinals are opening a three-game series on Monday with the Pittsburgh Pirates, who are just two games out of first.

The Brewers are on their longest losing streak since a seven-game slide from July 6-12 and were outscored 31-8 in three games this weekend while getting swept by the San Francisco Giants.

"We're still OK," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "We can turn this thing around in a hurry and have a good next series. Then you go on from there. We still have a long ways to go and we know it. You are always disappointed when you have a series like this, especially after playing [the Giants] tough in our ballpark. We just fell apart."

Roenicke lost his center fielder Carlos Gomez to a left wrist injury on Sunday and his status for this game is unknown. That injury came on the same day that the Brewers found their set-up man for closer Francisco Rodriguez by acquiring right-hander Jonathan Broxton from Cincinnati for two players to be named later.

Broxton posted a 1.86 earned run average and seven saves in 51 games this year with the Reds.

Jimmy Nelson gets the start for Milwaukee and is winless since Aug. 5. He has lost back-to-back starts and three straight decisions, falling to 2-5 with a 4.10 ERA in nine starts this year.

The right-hander was charged with four runs -- two earned -- on five hits and two walks over five innings versus San Diego last time out on Tuesday. He also struck out a career-high seven.

"He just struggled off and on with his fastball and his slider," said Roenicke. "Made some good pitches with both of them. But every pitch you didn't know if he was going to be around the zone or not."

Nelson will make his first career start versus the Cubs, though he did face them twice in relief last year in limited major league action and hurled a total of four scoreless frames.

He'll be the first to face Soler at Wrigley Field. The 22-year-old Cuban rookie is one of many talented rookies that the Cubs have coming up and he has gone 8-for-15 with two doubles, three homers and seven RBI over his first four big league games.

"I will be excited, so excited," Soler said on Chicago's website through an interpreter, coach Franklin Font. "It's my first game at Wrigley in the big leagues."

Chicago is hoping that first baseman Anthony Rizzo can join him in the lineup today. Rizzo is hitting .278 with 30 homers and 71 RBI in 129 games this year, but has missed six in a row because of a tight lower back.

Chicago has lost four of its past six and will start Jacob Turner today.

Turner was solid over two relief outings with the Cubs, then made his first start with the club on Wednesday, but was tagged for six runs -- three earned -- over 3 2/3 innings of a loss at Cincinnati. The righty was charged with seven hits and walked a pair.

Turner has appeared in 23 games (21 starts) with the Cubs and Miami Marlins this year, going 4-8 with a 5.84 ERA.

He is 1-1 with a 2.18 ERA in four lifetime meetings with the Brewers. All but of those were starts and the lone relief outing came in his Cubs debut on Aug. 14.

The Brewers own just a 7-6 advantage over the Cubs this season.