Thursday could mark Shaun Marcum's last start with the Milwaukee Brewers and he'll get a chance to pitch his club to a season-high fifth straight victory in the finale of a four-game set with the Chicago Cubs.
Acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays in December of 2010, Marcum is set to become a free agent at season's end and the Brewers could opt to trade the right-hander prior to Friday, the last day for a team to deal for a player and have him to eligible for the postseason roster.
The 30-year-old went 13-7 with a 3.54 earned run average in 33 starts with Milwaukee last season and is 5-4 with a 3.19 ERA in 14 outings this year. His recent injury, right elbow tightness that held him out for over two months, could scare some teams away, but Marcum looked decent in his return to the mound on Saturday.
Pitching for the first time since June 14, the righty took a 4-0 loss and lasted five innings. All four runs allowed came in the fifth frame, one that began with an error and led to all four runs being unearned.
"I got a little tired there in the fifth inning, but other than that I felt pretty good," Marcum said.
The Cubs certainly wouldn't miss Marcum being on the Brewers' roster. He has won all four of his career starts against Chicago, posting a 2.33 ERA.
Milwaukee stretched its winning streak over Chicago to eight games in a row with Wednesday's 3-1 victory. Errors also played a role in that decision as the Brewers scored twice in the seventh frame to snap a tie game, getting helped by three Cubs errors and a wild pitch.
Jean Segura singled in the go-ahead run in the seventh and scored on a pair of errors, giving Milwaukee its fourth straight win and eighth in nine games.
Mike Fiers threw 7 1/3 solid innings to notch the victory, as he allowed just one run on four hits and one walk while fanning six.
"I was throwing everything for strikes and keeping everything down in the zone," Fiers said.
Milwaukee has bested Chicago in 20 of the last 25 encounters, but today can record its first ever four-game sweep of the franchise.
Jeff Samardzija was the hard-luck loser, surrendering three runs -- two earned -- on seven hits. The right-hander struck out 10 and did not issue a walk over seven frames.
"We threw the ball away three times within about three minutes," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said.
Ironically, Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney set an NL single-season record with his 114th straight game without an error. That broke David Eckstein's 2010 mark.
Chicago, though, lost for the eighth time in 10 games and today goes with rookie Brooks Raley, who makes the fifth start of his career.
The left-hander lost the first two before beating the Cincinnati Reds on Aug. 18. He then got a no-decision on Saturday against the Colorado Rockies, yielding two runs on five hits and three walks over five innings.
The 24-year-old lefty has allowed five homers over his 20 1/3 innings while posting a 6.64 ERA.