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Cubs-Brewers Preview

May 10, 2009 - 6:18 AM By MATT BECKER STATS Senior Writer

Chicago (16-14) at Milwaukee (18-13), 2:05 p.m. EDT

A series between the Cubs and Brewers at Miller Park typically draws thousands of Chicago-area fans that make the short drive up Interstate 94.

Backed by throngs of supporters, the Cubs have enjoyed plenty of success there recently. There's been little to cheer about over the last couple of days, though.

Led by the red-hot Ryan Braun, the surging Brewers look to sweep their first home series over Chicago in four years when the NL Central rivals wrap up their three-game set on Sunday.

The Cubs (16-14) took two of three in Milwaukee from April 10-12 and entered this series having won 11 of 16 there since the start of the 2007 season. Now, Chicago is in danger of being swept there for the first time since May 3-5, 2005.

In Friday's opener, Braun hit a two-run homer in the eighth inning to lead Milwaukee to a 3-2 victory. On Saturday, Craig Counsell and Braun hit back-to-back homers during a six-run seventh in the 12-6 win.

The consecutive shots helped Milwaukee break open a tight game and improve to 14-4 since April 22 - the best mark in the majors.

Braun has been carrying the offense during the surge, batting .443 (27 for 61) with seven home runs and 23 RBIs in his last 17 games. He has three homers and 10 RBIs in his last four alone.

"The ball jumps off (Braun's) bat," catcher Jason Kendall told the Brewers' official Web site. "You know he's going to do that for a long time."

Kendall had a season-high three hits Saturday for Milwaukee, which has plated 54 runs in its last seven games.

While Milwaukee's offense is rolling, Chicago's is dealing with injuries to two of its top run producers.

Third baseman Aramis Ramirez, who was batting .364 with four homers and 16 RBIs, dislocated his left shoulder Friday. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list Saturday and is expected to be out at least a month.

First baseman Derrek Lee sat out for his fourth straight game Saturday with neck spasms and is scheduled to have tests on Monday.

Without those two, the Cubs left 12 runners on base Saturday.

"We had chances, we had chances," manager Lou Piniella said. "One of these days we'll start hitting with men on base and make things a whole lot easier on us."

Sean Marshall (0-2, 4.15 ERA) looks to help the Cubs get back in the win column. He gave up five runs and eight hits in seven innings of a 6-2 loss to San Francisco on Tuesday. The left-hander has now made eight starts since his last victory - a 7-1 win over St. Louis on July 6.

He is 1-2 with a 9.53 ERA in nine games - two starts - lifetime versus the Brewers. In his last start against Milwaukee on June 30, 2007, Marshall was tagged for seven runs in two innings of a 13-4 loss.

The Brewers will go with Jeff Suppan (2-2, 5.68), who gave up three runs and five hits in 5 2-3 innings of an 8-5 win over Pittsburgh on Tuesday.

Milwaukee has won each of Suppan's last four starts since he was tagged for 11 runs in 7 2-3 innings in losing his first two of the season.

On April 12 against the Cubs, Suppan gave up five runs, two hits and a season-high six walks - including three with the bases loaded - in 3 2-3 innings of an 8-5 loss. The right-hander is 1-2 with a 7.71 ERA in four starts against Chicago since the start of last season.






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