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Dempster strikes out nine over eight frames

The Cubs' series opener against Milwaukee on Tuesday marks the start of a 10-game road trip against the top three teams in the National League Central.

But don't expect Chicago, 11 1/2 games behind the division leaders at the conclusion of Sunday's action, to roll over for their rivals.

"We're not where we want to be but we're going to make it difficult on the teams all year long," Cubs center fielder Marlon Byrd said. "We're playing the top teams in our division. We owe it to the rest of the division to battle. It's a big trip. We keep thinking anything can happen."

The Cubs' sweep of the Astros gave Chicago its first three-game winning streak of the season.

"I'd like to get 12," manager Mike Quade said. "It's still a part of playing well and doing stuff consistently, whether it's getting consistent starting pitching or driving in runs or finding a way to finish games. Three in a row doesn't happen unless those things happen."

Milwaukee will look to first baseman Prince Fielder to help end the Cubs' streak. The Brewers slugger was mired in a 2-for-28 slump before collecting hits in his first two at-bats against the Giants on Sunday.

Brewers manager Ron Roenicke discussed with Fielder the possibility of taking the day off on Sunday, but the first baseman declined. That was OK with the Milwaukee skipper.

"Especially the guys that are your guys, the main guys who have to do with the core of your team, I want those guys to have their say-so," Roenicke said. "They know themselves better than I know what's going on inside of them."

Ryan Dempster will get the start for the Cubs, and he has enjoyed great success against the Brewers. The right-hander is 15-3 with a 2.50 ERA in 45 appearances (23 starts) versus Milwaukee.

Brewers starter Chris Narveson has also enjoyed success against his rivals. The lefty is 5-0 with a 3.38 ERA in 11 appearances (four starts) against the Cubs.

Cubs: Lopez to pen, for now
Cubs right-hander Rodrigo Lopez will remain in the bullpen until making a start against the Cardinals on Saturday.

Lopez, who has posted three straight quality outings as a starter, will be likely be available in relief until Wednesday.

"He'd be available [in relief] even through the second game in Milwaukee," Cubs manager Mike Quade said. "He's been pretty resilient. His experience is important."

Lopez threw two-thirds of an inning of scoreless relief on Sunday.

Brewers: No time to let up
Including Tuesday's series opener against the Cubs, the Brewers will play nine of their next 12 games against the NL Central's bottom two teams -- Chicago and Houston.

The Brewers, though, know they can't ease up on the gas, especially after losing three of four to the Cubs at Wrigley Field in mid-June, which came right after a home sweep of the Cardinals.

"We're all professionals, and anyone can beat you," second baseman Rickie Weeks said. "We found that out when we went to Chicago earlier this year."

Worth noting
• The Brewers begin a streak of 18 consecutive games within the NL Central on Tuesday.

•: The Cubs are 17-29 on the road this season. Comments