The Cubs and Brewers aren't off to ideal starts, but Milwaukee appears to be trending in the right direction.
After a 2-8 stretch to open the season, Ron Roenicke's bunch has rattled off four consecutive victories, the last three coming in a sweep of the reigning champion Giants. He senses a lift in spirits in the clubhouse.
"I'm sure [winning changes moods]," Roenicke said, adding that even his mood was improved. "I think just getting back on that winning track helps, but it should even more with who we're playing."
The Cubs, meanwhile, returned to the win column on Thursday to dismiss a 2-8 stretch of their own. Now Chicago embarks on a 10-game road trip, which manager Dale Sveum is approaching with a little more urgency because of his squad's slow start.
"It's another long road trip. Three cities," Sveum said. "Our starting pitching, if it holds up the way it is and stuff, obviously we have to score runs and play better baseball and hit with men in scoring position off of starters -- mostly all our hits are coming in the eighth or ninth inning -- so we've got to do something and get leads in the beginning of games and bust games open a little bit with our offense."
They followed that blueprint on Thursday, when they pounced on Rangers right-hander Alexi Ogando early en route to a 6-2 triumph. Carlos Villanueva provided seven strong innings, a performance Jeff Samardzija will attempt to replicate at Miller Park on Friday. The righty sports a 1-2 record, despite 27 strikeouts and only six runs allowed in 19 2/3 innings of work.
Milwaukee will counter with Marco Estrada, who has submitted two straight quality starts, and totes a 1-0 mark and 4.50 ERA, with 21 punch outs in 18 innings.
Cubs: Sveum sees 'pen struggles as common
• The Cubs have had their share of bullpen trouble this season, but Sveum isn't panicking.
"It's not just this year [in baseball]," Sveum said. "If you've ever paid attention and been in the game as long as I have, it's the way it is. Unless you have Mariano Rivera or [Dennis] Eckersley and [Trevor] Hoffman, that's just the way the game is. It's tough, guys grind more, you'll see pitches taken. For whatever reason, that's been the history of the game, and that's just part of it. You know going in that that tying run is going to get to the plate somehow, some way."
James Russell and Carlos Marmol shut the door on Texas in Thursday's win without issue, combining for two hitless innings and three strikeouts.
Brewers: Burgos gets call to face Cubs
• For the first time since April 6, the Brewers need a fifth starter. And it will be Hiram Burgos, who will start on Saturday, Milwaukee announced after Thursday's game. Mike Fiers was optioned to make room.
• The Brewers won 13 of their 17 meetings with the Cubs last season. The teams split two games earlier this month.
• Cubs catcher Welington Castillo tallied four hits on Thursday to boost his batting average to .425 (17-for-40).