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Brewers turn to Brandon Woodruff in effort to even series against Cubs

Aug 21, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher Brandon Woodruff (53) delivers the baseball in the first inning against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

Milwaukee Brewers right-hander Brandon Woodruff carries a 10-start unbeaten streak into Saturday’s second contest of a three-game series against the visiting Chicago Cubs.

The Brewers certainly could use a strong outing after dropping their third straight game overall and 10th in 17 meetings against the Cubs on Friday.

Woodruff (9-3, 3.51 ERA) won four of his first six starts following his return from a month-long absence after injuring his ankle on May 27 at St. Louis. The 29-year-old has since received four straight no-decisions while allowing two homers in each of his last three outings.

In his last start on Sunday, Woodruff surrendered a solo homer to Ian Happ in the first inning before settling down. The homer was Happ’s 100th of his career.

Happ wasn’t shy about flexing his muscles on Friday. He capped his second two-run homer of the game in the 10th inning as the Cubs made the most of their only two hits to earn a 4-3 victory.

Happ is 6-for-12 with four extra-base hits (two doubles, two homers), six RBIs and four runs over his last three games.

While Happ has been heating up of late, the Brewers are struggling to come through with a key hit in the clutch — much to the dismay of manager Craig Counsell.

“It’s a frustrating night for sure,” Counsell said. “We got runners on early, not much kinda in the middle of the game, (but) did a nice job in the ninth and the 10th. But (we) didn’t capitalize on really big opportunities.”

Chicago left-hander Drew Smyly (5-7, 3.47) will take the mound on Saturday looking to continue his torrid pitching this month.

Smyly, 33, is 2-1 with a rail-thin 1.13 ERA in August. He has allowed three runs on 17 hits in 24 innings, although his lone blemish on Monday — a solo homer to Albert Pujols — led to a hard-luck 1-0 loss to the Cardinals.

Despite the setback, Smyly admitted to being impressed when taking a closer look at his impressive statistics this month.

“I like the sound of that,” he said. “I feel really good. Honestly, I feel like I’m getting stronger as the season progresses. Everything’s kind of trending in that direction.”

Smyly is 1-0 with a 1.00 ERA in two career starts against the Brewers.

Woodruff, in turn, is 2-2 with a 3.56 ERA in 15 career appearances (13 starts) vs. the Cubs.

Milwaukee’s Jace Peterson will look to make more of an impact after grounding into a game-ending double play on Friday.

Peterson served as a pinch hitter in the 10th inning after missing six weeks with a left elbow sprain. He was activated from the injured list prior to the game.

“Pain-free, that was the main thing,” Peterson said, per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “Just kind of gave it a little bit of extra time waiting on the swings, but I feel like we’re in a good spot with it.”

–Field Level Media