<
>

Series preview: Brewers at Cubs

CHICAGO – The Cubs open a three game series against the first-place Milwaukee Brewers beginning on Friday.

The series:

Friday: Jeff Samardzija (0-3, 1.45) vs. Kyle Lohse (4-1, 2.75), 1:20 p.m. CT

Saturday: Edwin Jackson (2-3, 4.56) vs. Matt Garza (2-3, 4.98), 1:20 p.m. CT

Sunday: Travis Wood (3-4, 4.91) vs. Marco Estrada (3-1, 3.28), 1:20 p.m. CT

Samardzija watch: His start this week got pushed back due to a rainout in St. Louis, so maybe he gets his first win at home against a first-place team. But the Cubs will need to score for him. So far they’ve averaged 1.88 runs per game when he takes the the mound this year.

Garza returns: Matt Garza pitches at Wrigley Field for the first time since the Cubs traded him last season and for the first time since he told Samardzija he needs to pitch his way out of town while declaring the Cubs' only “hope” to win, while in Milwaukee they expect it these days. Garza always makes things interesting, and Saturday should be no different.

Who’s hot/who’s not: Five for 19 doesn’t sound like a huge hot streak, but for Nate Schierholtz it qualifies. Off to a rough start in 2014, Schierholtz had a double, triple, four walks and four RBIs on the just-completed road trip. He’s still looking for his first home run after hitting a career-high 21 last year. Darwin Barney is 6-for-16 over the last three series. Meanwhile, Welington Castillo hit under .200 on the road trip with just one extra base hit. Catcher John Baker went 0-for-3 on Thursday and is 0-for-7 in his two starts on the road. His batting average dropped to .063 as he struck out with men on in a key spot Thursday.