Hours after bolstering their already impressive pitching staff, the Chicago Cubs stifled the opponent for a third straight victory.
Chicago hopes Kyle Hendricks can bounce back from a couple of tough outings to extend that winning streak Saturday night against the offensively challenged Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park.
The Cubs (55-47) sent two minor leaguers to Miami on Friday for Dan Haren and acquired reliever Tommy Hunter from Baltimore for outfielder Junior Lake.
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Haren, who owns his lowest ERA (3.42) in four seasons, brings 369 starts of experience with him, while Hunter has posted a 3.05 ERA over the last three years for the Orioles.
Chicago's pitching has been especially strong during a three-game winning streak, limiting Colorado and Milwaukee to a combined five runs and 18 hits. Jason Hammel allowed one run in 5 2/3 innings, and four relievers combined to yield one hit and one walk over 3 1/3 innings in Friday's 4-1 victory.
With a 3.46 ERA that ranks fifth in baseball, the onus is largely on the offense to elevate its play for the Cubs to reach the playoffs for the first time in seven years. Chicago is one game out of a wild-card spot despite averaging 3.8 runs, ranking in baseball's bottom third, and batting .228 with runners in scoring position to rank 26th.
Manager Joe Maddon's club has a major league-high 936 strikeouts.
"Offensively we have to continue to get our strike zones in order, and more than anything, runner on third, less than two outs, let's get them home," Maddon told MLB's official website. "We need to become more consistent situationally, and I've always believed having an organized strike zone is part of that."
Anthony Rizzo delivered Friday, homering for the third straight game and adding a single. Rizzo, who had homered once in 31 games before the last three, owns a 1.439 OPS with nine home runs and 20 RBI in his last 17 against the Brewers.
Hendricks (4-5, 3.81 ERA) seeks his first win in five starts after struggling in his last two, allowing nine runs and 14 hits in 11 innings against Cincinnati and Colorado. Five combined walks were especially uncharacteristic after he had issued as many free passes in his previous eight outings.
Hendricks is 2-0 with a 0.98 ERA in three matchups with Milwaukee. Ryan Braun, who hit his 19th homer Friday, is 1 for 6 with three strikeouts off Hendricks.
Milwaukee (44-60) has dropped seven of nine and an offense that was already struggling looks overmatched after trading Gerardo Parra and Carlos Gomez. Parra was batting a team-leading .328, while Gomez had posted a club-best .821 OPS since 2013.
The Brewers, who also recently traded away Aramis Ramirez, are batting .201 while averaging 1.4 runs during this 1-6 stretch.
"We lost three players from our regular lineup," manager Craig Counsell said. "It's going to be the biggest challenge, for sure."
Counsell now hopes Matt Garza's recent improvement continues. Garza (5-11, 5.20) is 1-4 with a 6.06 ERA in his last six starts but was better in the last two. He threw six shutout innings in an 8-1 win over Cleveland on July 21, then allowed three runs over 5 2/3 innings in Sunday's 3-0 loss at Arizona.
A 12th loss would tie his career high from 2009 with Tampa Bay. Sunday marked his eighth defeat with one run of support or fewer.
Garza is 1-2 with a 4.50 ERA in four meetings with the Cubs since they traded him to Texas in 2013.
Chris Coghlan is 2 for 33 in his last nine against Milwaukee, but he's 5 for 12 with three doubles and a triple off Garza.