Major League Baseball

NL Central foes Cubs, Brewers look to gain ground

BREWERS (68-65) AT CUBS (72-61)
2:20 p.m. ET; WGN, MLBN, FSWI, MLB.TV

The Milwaukee Brewers gained a sliver of momentum in their last outing by salvaging the finale of a three-game series against one National League Central rival.

The Brewers hope to turn that spark into a fire on Friday when they open a three-game set against another division foe in the Chicago Cubs.

Keston Hiura belted a solo shot and drove in three runs in Milwaukee’s 4-1 win over St. Louis on Wednesday, giving the rookie 35 homers in 126 games this season between the Brewers and Triple-A San Antonio.

“We’re going into September now. The last month, all of these games really matter, and some quality opponents, too,” the 23-year-old Hiura said. “These games definitely are important and we definitely have to focus a little bit more.”

Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell was in no position to argue with his young charge.

“We needed a win,” Counsell said. “We played a nice game, but we would have taken any kind of win.”

The Brewers, who have lost seven of 12 meetings with Chicago this season, reside four games behind the Cubs for the final wild-card spot in the National League.

Milwaukee turns to right-hander Chase Anderson (6-3, 4.34 ERA) in its bid to close the gap against a Chicago team that has won eight of its last 11 games.

Anderson secured his first victory since July 17 after scattering three hits over five innings in a 4-0 win against Arizona on Saturday.

The 31-year-old sports a 5-4 mark with a 2.79 ERA and 0.98 WHIP in 13 career appearances (12 starts) versus Chicago. He collected the win in relief against the Cubs in a 13-10 victory on April 5 before receiving a no-decision after a five-inning stint on July 27.

Victor Caratini, who is 2-for-5 in a small sample size against Anderson, belted a pair of homers off reigning NL Cy Young Award recipient Jacob deGrom on Thursday as Chicago completed a three-game sweep with a 4-1 win over the New York Mets.

Caratini, who traditionally is behind the plate, drew the start in place of injured first baseman Anthony Rizzo (back).

Cubs manager Joe Maddon did not sound overly optimistic that Rizzo would be able to return for the series opener against the Brewers.

“I would be surprised if he walks in and said he felt good enough to play,” Maddon said. “I’m not anticipating that.”

Kris Bryant has scored four runs during his four-game hitting streak and Javier Baez has crossed home plate in each of his last four contests.

Chicago left-hander Jose Quintana (11-8, 4.05) will get the nod as he attempts to rebound from his first loss in over two months on Saturday after yielding five runs (four earned) in four innings of a 7-2 defeat against Washington.

Quintana has struggled against Milwaukee this season, posting a 1-2 mark with a 7.08 ERA in four starts — highlighted by an eight-run performance in that April 5 outing.

The 30-year-old Quintana sports a 7-4 record with a 2.82 ERA and 0.99 WHIP in 15 career encounters with the Brewers.

–Field Level Media

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