LIVE: Baker drives in fourth run, Cubs lead 6-4

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LIVE: Baker drives in fourth run, Cubs lead 6-4

Friday, April 8, 2011
Posted: 11:12 a.m.
Associated Press
The Milwaukee Brewers have turned things around at home after a slow start, but they haven't enjoyed any recent visits from the Chicago Cubs.

Milwaukee will try to win its fourth straight Friday night when it opens a three-game series against the Cubs, who send Carlos Zambrano to the mound looking to win his seventh straight decision at Miller Park.

The Brewers (3-4) were expected to contend in the NL Central, but opened the season with four straight losses.

However, Milwaukee has moved within a game of .500 after closing a four-game set against Atlanta with a 4-2 win Thursday. Nyjer Morgan scored the go-ahead run in the second while Shaun Marcum overcame some early struggles to pitch six effective innings.

"Things can sure change in a hurry and hopefully this gets us rolling," first-year Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said.

Improved play against Chicago could help the Brewers realize their playoff dreams. The Cubs went 6-3 in Milwaukee last season and have won nine of the last 13 there.

However, it won't be easy for the Brewers against Zambrano (0-0, 4.50 ERA). The right-hander is 6-0 with a 1.97 ERA in his last seven starts at Miller Park, including a no-hitter in 2008 against the Astros in a game relocated there because of a hurricane in Houston.

"I'm a big believer in history repeating itself," Chicago manager Mike Quade told the Cubs' official website. "I love going to Milwaukee and playing there or playing them here. It's a nice rivalry. ... I'm always excited to play those guys, and hopefully 'Z' will set the tone and it'll be good."

Despite Zambrano's success, the Brewers' Prince Fielder is hitting .341 with five doubles, two home runs and 14 walks in 41 at-bats against him. Fielder went 4 for 7 with four RBIs in the final two games against the Braves, raising his average from .176 to .292.

Zambrano, who's had a history of cramps, said he's feeling fine after leaving with them in the seventh inning against Pittsburgh on Saturday. He gave up three runs in six innings of the 5-3 victory.

A successful and healthy Zambrano is particularly important after news broke Wednesday that starters Randy Wells (right forearm strain) and Andrew Cashner (strain in right rotator cuff) would be headed to the 15-day disabled list.

This contest begins a nine-game road trip for Chicago (3-3), and includes stops in Houston and Colorado. The Cubs lost the finale of a three-game set to Arizona 6-4 Wednesday after dropping two of three to Pittsburgh last week.

"There was a lot of good to take out of what I saw on this homestand," Quade said. "I would have liked to have taken all that good stuff and been 5-1 or 4-2, but that's OK."

Randy Wolf (0-1, 13.50), who opposed Zambrano in the no-hitter, will take the mound for the Brewers.

Making his season debut against the Reds on Sunday, Wolf allowed up six runs and 10 hits - including two home runs - in four innings of a 12-3 loss.

The left-hander lost both starts against the Cubs last season, but pitched well on Sept. 11, giving up one run and four hits in eight innings of a 1-0 defeat.
Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Jake Arrieta expects Cubs to have the best rotation in baseball

Jake Arrieta expects Cubs to have the best rotation in baseball

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Jake Arrieta is a Cy Young Award winner who won't get the Opening Night assignment. John Lackey is a No. 3 starter already fitted for his third World Series ring. Kyle Hendricks led the majors with a 2.13 ERA last year and won't start until the fifth game of this season.  

Do you feel like this is the best rotation in baseball?

"We're up there, yeah," Arrieta said after homering off Zack Greinke during Thursday afternoon's 5-5 tie with the Arizona Diamondbacks at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. "I think on paper – and with what we've actually done on the field – it's tough to not say that.

"We like the guys we have. People can rank them, but time will tell. Once we get out there the first four or five times through the rotation, I think you can probably put a stamp on it then, more so than now. 

"But, yeah, we stack up just as well as anybody out there, for sure."  

Arrieta made it through five innings against the Diamondbacks, giving up three runs and eight hits in what figures to be his second-to-last Cactus League tune-up before facing the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on April 4. 

The New York Mets blew away Cubs hitters with their power pitching and game-planning during that 2015 National League Championship Series sweep. The Washington Nationals are trying to keep Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg healthy and already watched Tanner Roark deliver for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic. 

The Cubs dreaded the idea of facing Johnny Cueto in a possible elimination game at Wrigley Field last October. The Los Angeles Dodgers almost became a matchup nightmare for the Cubs with lefties Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill during the 2016 NLCS.

But slotting Hendricks at No. 5 – five months after he started a World Series Game 7 – is a luxury few contenders can afford. 

"That just speaks to our length in the rotation," Arrieta said, "and being able to keep relievers out of the game, longer than most teams. That's a big deal, especially when you get into July and August. 

"Obviously, Kyle could be a 1 or 2 just about anywhere. Not that he's not here. We've got several of those, which is a good problem to have. It's going to be favorable for us when there's a No. 4 or No. 5 guy in our rotation going up against somebody else's. Our chances are really good, especially with our lineup." 

Arrieta talked up No. 4 starter Brett Anderson as "a little bit like Hendricks from the left side" in terms of his preparation, cerebral nature and spin rate, a combination that makes him an X-factor for this rotation and an organization starved for pitching beyond 2017. 

The if-healthy disclaimer always comes with Anderson, who played with Arrieta on the 2008 Olympic team and has been on the disabled list nine times since then. Coming out of high school, Arrieta initially signed to play for Anderson's father, Frank, the Oklahoma State University coach at the time, before going in a different direction in a career that wouldn't truly take off until he got to Chicago. 

"We're all looking forward to seeing how we pick up where we left off," Arrieta said. "Judging by what we've done this spring and the shape guys are in and the health – I don't see any reason we can't jump out to an early lead like we did last year and sustain it throughout the entire season."
 

Cubs Talk Podcast: The making of Reign Men

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Cubs Talk Podcast: The making of Reign Men

In the latest Cubs Talk Podcast, Kelly Crull sits down with CSN executive producers Ryan McGuffey and Sarah Lauch, the creators of 'Reign Men: The Story Behind Game 7 of the 2016 World Series, which premieres March 27 at 9:30 p.m. on CSN.

McGuffey and Lauch share their experience making the 52-minute documentary as they sifted through hours of sound from the likes of Joe Maddon, Theo Epstein, Jason Heyward, Anthony Rizzo and more recapping one of the greatest baseball games ever played.

Plus, hear a sneak peak of 'Reign Men’ as Heyward and Epstein describe their perspective of the Rajai Davis game-tying homer and that brief rain delay that led to Heyward’s epic speech.

Check out the latest Cubs Talk Podcast right here: