The Chicago Cubs have long known Starlin Castro could be a defensive liability, but his offensive struggles have been a bit more perplexing.
He'll look to get back on track in both facets while extending his hitting streak against the Milwaukee Brewers to 11 games Tuesday night as Chicago tries to end an eight-game skid at Miller Park.
The 23-year-old Castro didn't become the first player born in the 1990s to make it to the majors three years ago because of his defense, but more for a solid bat that helped him rank among the league leaders in hits the past two seasons.
Castro hasn't been very good in the field or at the plate lately, committing two errors in Sunday's 14-6 win over Houston to bring his major league worst-tying total to 14 while also going hitless.
He's 2 for 25 over his last six games and is hitting just .228 on the year.
"The whole thing is not going real well right now so hopefully (Monday's off day) can recharge him and get things going in Milwaukee,' manager Dale Sveum said.
Castro is a .294 career hitter and has a 10-game hitting streak versus Milwaukee, though the Cubs (31-43) have lost 12 of the last 14 meetings overall versus their NL Central rivals.
After setting season bests in runs and hits (16) in Sunday's victory, Chicago is hoping its bats stay hot against the Brewers.
Ryan Sweeney, starting for injured center fielder David DeJesus, hit a three-run homer and drove in a career-high six runs. Anthony Rizzo scored four times and hit a two-run homer.
"Anytime you're scoring 14 runs with 16 hits, it's contagious,' Sweeney said
The Cubs will send Edwin Jackson (3-9, 5.49 ERA) to the mound as they return to the park where they were swept April 19-21.
Jackson, who went 1-8 with a 6.29 ERA over his first 11 outings, seemed to be getting back on track after two solid starts, holding Pittsburgh and the Mets to a combined two runs over 13 innings in wins earlier this month.
He was much less effective Wednesday, though, giving up four runs in 5 1-3 innings of a 4-1 loss to St. Louis.
"Earlier (in the season), I felt like I was kind of mechanical,' Jackson said. "You have to go back to having fun.'
Despite Jackson's latest defeat, Sveum believes he has started to find his groove.
"He's pitching with more conviction,' Sveum said. "Everything is going a heck of a lot better than the first half of his starts.'
The right-hander lost to Milwaukee on April 8 and April 20, giving up five runs over six innings in each, though only one was earned in the second outing.
Milwaukee (31-43), which is coming off a 7-4 loss to Atlanta on Sunday, will counter with Kyle Lohse, who hasn't had much help from his offense.
Lohse (2-6, 3.68) has allowed one earned run in each of his last three starts, but only one victory to show for it. His 2.94 run-support average is among the worst in baseball after he got no help for the sixth time Wednesday, pitching six innings before Milwaukee's offense got going in a 3-1 win at Houston.
He refuses to let the lack of run support bother him, though.
"I'm not going to be selfish about it," Lohse said. "I want this team to get going in the right direction."
The right-hander is 3-0 with a 2.84 ERA in his last five starts versus the Cubs, though he's yet to face them in his first season with the Brewers.
The Associated Press News Service
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