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LAD@MIL: Wolf pitches eight scoreless innings to win

The Brewers are heading back home, which can only likely mean trouble for the visiting Cubs.

Milwaukee -- which has figured out its early-season road woes and finished its recent road trip 5-2 -- is a remarkable 47-16 at Miller Park this year, where it will meet the division-rival Cubs on Friday for the opener of a weekend series.

"I don't think that we were lacking in confidence before, but I definitely think that [now] there's a true feeling of expecting to win," Brewers third baseman Casey McGehee said. "A feeling that if we're down, something is going to happen and we're going to get back in the game. I don't think we were ever lacking that, for whatever reason, at home. But we've figured out a way to have that same kind of mindset no matter where we're playing."

It won't be a walk in the park for veteran lefty Randy Wolf against the Cubs, though, as Chicago is 5-2 in seven series this month and 20-19 overall since the All-Star break.

"A little bit of progress everywhere," Cubs manager Mike Quade said. "We've hit the ball out of the ballpark more than we did. We've gotten more quality starts than we were getting. The bullpen has maybe been the one constant. But [Carlos Marmol's] little two-week issue [in mid-July] where he needed to get straightened out, he's recovered from that and gotten very good.

"I think we've played much better defense and cleaner baseball. All of that contributes to it, to my way of thinking as far as why. And we're healthy, and amazingly, have been for a while."

Despite the Brewers' big lead in the National League Central, Quade said his team's August success -- coupled with its familiarity of Milwaukee -- has the Cubs confident heading to Miller Park.

"We know them like the back of our hand," Quade said. "The pieces of that puzzle haven't changed since the last time we saw them."

Chicago will turn to Rodrigo Lopez for the start on Friday, hoping that the right-hander can bounce back from his last poor outing. He surrendered four homers and 10 hits over 5 1/3 innings against the Cardinals, falling victim to poor location.

"It's tough when you're a finesse guy," Quade said. "There's very little room for error, and when you miss up and out over the plate, it's tough to compensate for that."

Lopez has faced the Brewers twice this year, both of which were relief appearances in June.

Cubs: Ramirez on a roll
Third baseman Aramis Ramirez has a 14-game hitting streak, in which he's batting .537 with seven walks, nine runs, four doubles, four homers and 14 RBIs. He also needs one more homer to join Hall of Famer Billy Williams as the only players in Cubs history to hit at least 30 doubles and 25 homers six times.

• Alfonso Soriano, who was hit by a pitch on Wednesday, is expected to be back in the lineup on Friday.

Brewers: Hot from the hill
Entering Wednesday, the Brewers had a Major League-best ERA of 2.65 (95 earned runs in 323 innings pitched) over 36 games since July 17. They lowered that mark to 2.63 with the two earned runs allowed in the series finale against Pittsburgh.

• With his 100th RBI on Tuesday night, first baseman Prince Fielder joined Cecil Cooper as the only players in franchise history to record four 100-RBI seasons. Ryan Braun is 15 RBIs away from also accomplishing the feat.

Those two may be leading the way, but McGehee pointed to the team's consistency across the board as a reason for recent success.

"That's pretty rare, when you can say that all 25 guys on the roster have either had a huge hand in it or put the team on their back for a day and won one of those games," McGehee said. "Everybody, regardless of what the numbers are, feels like they're having a good year because of what we're doing together."

Worth noting
• Milwaukee's .746 winning percentage at home is the best in baseball. The club has won 18 of its last 21 games at Miller Park, and is 16-4-0 in series play this year in Milwaukee.

• The Cubs are 21-22 in one-run games this season. They were 22-32 in such ballgames last season, and haven't had a winning mark in one-run games in a season since 2008.

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