The Chicago Cubs' winning streak is over, yet their run of impressive starting pitching performances isn't.
Carlos Villanueva and newcomer Jake Arrieta will try to keep that going in Tuesday's day-night doubleheader against the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field.
With Jeff Samardzija going seven shutout innings in Monday's 5-0 series-opening defeat, Cubs starters have now allowed three runs or fewer 33 times during a 22-18 stretch.
Chicago's bullpen had gone 9 1-3 scoreless innings over the previous four contests before Pedro Strop gave up all the runs in the ninth inning Monday. He had not allowed any runs in 12 previous appearances since he and Arrieta came over in the July 2 Scott Feldman deal.
The Cubs (48-56), losers of eight of 11 at home to Milwaukee, look to even this four-game series with Villanueva (2-7, 4.23 ERA) trying to end a career-worst three-start losing streak.
The former Brewer, 0-3 with a 6.16 ERA in four outings since being reinserted into the rotation following the Feldman deal, needed 103 pitches to go five innings in Thursday's 3-1 loss at Arizona. Villanueva's 37-pitch first inning set a bad tone, but he only yielded one run in that frame and finished with just three allowed.
Arrieta makes his Cubs debut in the nightcap after struggling with Baltimore. The right-hander, 1-2 with a 7.23 ERA in five starts for the Orioles this season, told the Cubs' official website that he hopes to stick with the big league club after being sent to Triple-A Iowa following the deal.
"I don't plan on going back (to Iowa)," said Arrieta, who made three trips to the minors this season while with Baltimore. "I plan on making it tough for them to decide and just go from there."
Villanueva will make his first start - and third appearance - against his former team after throwing a scoreless inning of relief in a 5-4 road win June 26.
A doubleheader sweep would give the last-place Brewers (44-61) their first road series win since June 10-12 - and send the Cubs to their first three-game skid since that same stretch - but the recent struggles from Game 1 starter Yovani Gallardo (8-9, 4.88) can't give Milwaukee much confidence. The right-hander seemed to have a breakthrough July 20 when he went 6 1-3 innings in a 6-0 victory over Miami, but he followed that by permitting six runs in 3 2-3 innings of Thursday's 10-8 loss to San Diego.
"It's definitely frustrating, especially coming after the start I had against the Marlins,' Gallardo said.
It's been a "surprising" stretch of bad pitching from the team's ace, according to manager Ron Roenicke.
"This is a guy that's always been known for his consistency and to be able to pitch a lot of games in a row where they're all great games, whether you want to call them quality starts or however you want to describe them, they're really good ballgames," he told the Brewers' official website. "And he does this for a long period of time - and this year, he hasn't been able to do that."
Gallardo, 3-1 with a 3.25 ERA in seven starts at Wrigley Field, was charged with five runs - three earned - in four innings June 26.
Tyler Thornburg (1-0, 2.95) is expected to make his first start of the season - and fourth of his career - in Game 2. The right-hander made his sixth appearance of the season last Tuesday, getting tagged for a season-high four runs in four innings of a 6-2 loss to the Padres.
Villanueva (0 for 1) is the only Cub with an at-bat off Thornburg, who has no record with a 5.14 ERA as a starter.
Carlos Gomez, whose RBI single opened Monday's scoring, is batting .542 (13 for 24) with two homers and six RBIs while hitting safely in six straight. The All-Star center fielder is hitless in four at_bats off Villanueva.
Rickie Weeks (1 for 1) and Juan Francisco (1 for 5) are the only active Brewers with a hit against the Game 1 starter.
Yuniesky Betancourt (0 for 3) is the only player on Milwaukee's active roster to have faced Arrieta.
The Brewers are 6-3 against the Cubs this season.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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