(SportsNetwork.com) - Still in search of his first win in a Chicago Cubs uniform, Jon Lester squares off against Wily Peralta and the Milwaukee Brewers Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field in the first of three games between National League Central Division foes.
Lester was signed to a six-year, $155-million contract in the offseason. But through four starts with his new club, the left-hander is 0-2 with a 6.23 ERA. However, he is coming off his most promising outing last week in Cincinnati, where he went six innings against the Reds and allowed three runs on five hits, striking out 10 and walking one.
"I got a better feel for my cutter and was able to make some offspeed pitches, which is obviously key against this team," Lester said after that game, which the Cubs went on to win, 7-3, in extra innings. "I'm learning. New league, new faces, new guys."
Brewers starter Wily Peralta is coming off a 17-win season but, like Lester, is still seeking his first win of 2015. The right-hander is 0-3 with a 5.04 ERA but also like Lester, he was solid his last time out, holding the St. Louis Cardinals to two earned runs in six innings. Peralta has pitched 25 innings so far this season and yielded only four walks, although he was also allowed 32 hits.
Milwaukee had the day off Thursday, but are coming off an 8-3 win at Cincinnati on Wednesday to avoid being swept. Ryan Braun hit two of the team's four home runs in the game, including an eighth-inning grand slam that broke the game open.
"It's nice to get a win," Braun said of the Brewers, who are hitting just .227 as a team. "We've been playing terribly in all phases of the game. We have underperformed. It's nice to see some results. Now the key is to sustain it."
Starter Matt Garza went 6 2/3 innings and gave up two runs on five hits to improve to 2-3. Milwaukee is currently without starters Jonathan Lucroy, Carlos Gomez and Scooter Gennett due to injury.
Chicago was also idle on Thursday. A day earlier, though, the Cubs saw their win streak halted at four in an 8-1 setback to Pittsburgh.
Starter Kyle Hendricks took the loss as he allowed two runs on five hits in five innings, striking out six and walking three. The Cubs were out-hit, 14-7.
"They got us tonight, but any time you meatloaf the other team in a series, you'll take it," manager Joe Maddon said. "Meatloaf tastes good. You do that all season long, man, and by the end of the season, it might be your favorite meal of all time."
Chicago will look to regulars Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo to try and get back into the win column. That duo has hit at a combined .458 clip (11-for-24) against Peralta with five doubles and seven homers.
The Cubs got the better of Milwaukee in last year's season series, winning 11 of 19 meetings.