Brewers-Cubs preview

CHICAGO -- Right-hander Jimmy Nelson is searching for a breakthrough and hopes it finally comes in Wednesday's game against the Chicago Cubs.

The Milwaukee Brewers right-hander (6-12, 4.07 ERA) could use a positive outing and outcome.

Nelson is 1-9 in his last 13 starts including five straight losses as he faces the first-place Cubs and left-hander Jon Lester (12-4, 2.93 ERA).

More from FoxSports

"I'm definitely feeling every negative emotion you can think of," Nelson told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel earlier this month. "I don't take losing great. I hate that. I hate it. I'll just try to keep getting better and string together a couple good starts and consistently carry it over the next couple months so I can finish this thing off good."

He wouldn't mind a return to early season form. Nelson went 5-3 with a 2.88 ERA over his first 11 appearances through May 29.

Back then, the Brewers were 23-27 and in fourth place 12 games behind the Cubs. Two-and-one-half months later Milwaukee (52-66) remains in fourth but is now 23 games out of first.

Nelson has had strong outings this season even in losing efforts. He's had 11 quality starts, but none in his last five.

But Chicago historically has had Nelson's number. He's 0-5 with a 2.91 ERA in 10 career games (eight starts) and is 0-2 this season with a 1.53 EA in three starts.

One player who's done well against the Cubs is outfielder Ryan Braun. He sat out Monday's first game but was in the lineup batting third for game two. Braun was a career .352 batter with nine homers and 49 RBI at Wrigley Field in 60 games.

Braun left Tuesday's second game with a knee injury after crashing into a wall along the left field line. Manager Craig Counsell said Braun wasn't as seriously hurt as feared but would be day-to-day.

Lester has had better outcomes against the Brewers but has faced them fewer times. He's 2-2 with a 3.06 ERA in five starts against Milwaukee, including one this season. He gave up four runs on four hits while walking five over four innings on July 24 at Miller Park. He had no decision in that Cubs' 6-5 victory.

Lester also had good things to say this week about ex-Washington Nationals' reliever Jonathan Papelbon as a possible help to a struggling Cubs bullpen. But Cubs manager Joe told reporters on Tuesday that there's no talk about bringing Papelbon aboard.

"I'm not saying it can't happen," Maddon said. "Don't get me wrong. But for right now, there is nothing happening."

The Cubs and Brewers close this series on Thursday then meet again between Sept. 5-7 at Miller Park, plus a four-game series back at Wrigley Field between Sept. 15-18.

Chicago opens a 10-day, nine-game road trip on Friday that includes stops in Colorado, San Diego and at the Los Angeles Dodgers. Milwaukee has a three-game weekend series at Seattle before returning to Miller Park to face Colorado on Aug. 22.