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CHC@MIL: Estrada blanks Cubs over six for first win

The first game of a four-game series between the Brewers and Cubs on Monday at Wrigley Field features two starting pitchers who seemingly have mastered the ability to stay confident in the face of adversity.

Brewers right-hander Marco Estrada will be seeking his second straight win after enduring a season of frustrations and no wins before breaking through with a strong performance on Tuesday against the Cubs in Milwaukee.

Cubs starter Justin Germano got roughed up by the Brewers last Monday, but afterward managed to find reason for optimism.

Estrada is 1-5 with a 4.23 ERA in 22 appearances, including 16 starts, and finally came out with a win by turning in six scoreless innings, allowing just two hits in a game the Brewers won, 5-2.

"It felt like it's my first Major League win," Estrada said that night. "It feels amazing. I'm extremely happy right now, I'm sure the guys are happy for me, and I'm happy for them for playing their butts off."

He hopes to spend the final weeks of the season talking about something other than a winless streak.

Not that he blamed anyone for asking about it.

"Geez, it's been five months," Estrada said.

The right-hander will also spend his remaining starts trying to cement his spot in next season's rotation.

"I'm just really happy the Brewers keep giving me the opportunity to start here," Estrada said. "It's what I want to keep doing, and I have to go out and try as hard as I can every time, because next year, who knows what's going to happen?"

Germano, acquired from the Red Sox on July 19, is 2-3 with a 5.40 ERA with the Cubs, and allowed a season-high seven runs on eight hits in 4 2/3 innings in a 9-5 loss to the Brewers in his last outing.

Still, Germano did not feel too bad about the way he pitched.

"People might think I'm crazy, but I felt like I pitched a lot better than the line shows," Germano said. "I got ground balls that last inning. They just hit them where guys weren't. That's part of the game. A couple inches to the left, a couple inches to the right, you get out of that inning giving up a couple runs. I felt like my stuff was good and I felt I did all right except for eliminating the damage that last inning."

He is taking it one day at a time, one lesson at a time, Germano said.

"I'm not really trying to go too far ahead of myself more than one outing at a time," Germano said. "With limited games left, you want to put up as many consistent starts as you can. You have to remember you are going to hit some bad ones here and there, and try to shake them off and bounce back."

Brewers: Ramirez hits No. 18
• Third baseman Aramis Ramirez hit his 18th home run of the season Sunday, a two-run shot in the fifth inning, and is hitting .291 for the season.

• Center fielder Carlos Gomez hit a three-run homer in the fourth inning, his 13th of the season.

• Ryan Braun was hitless in three at-bats Sunday, but comes into the series against the Cubs hitting .302 with 34 home runs and 85 RBIs.

Cubs: Darwin's errorless streak at 111
• Second baseman Darwin Barney had played 111 straight errorless games.

Barney's streak is a Cubs single-season record and he is within sight of Ryne Sandberg's streak of 123 games that ran from June 21, 1989, to May 17, 1990.

Sandberg had the previous single-season record with his 90 straight errorless games at the end of the 1989 season.

Barney also had two RBIs in Sunday's 5-0 victory over the Rockies.

Worth noting
• The series continues a stretch of 13 consecutive games for the Brewers against the Pirates and Cubs.

They swept a three-game series against the Cubs Aug. 20-22 in Miller Park, and finished taking two out of three from the Pirates with a 7-0 victory Sunday.

They follow the series with the Cubs this week with another three games with the Pirates on Aug. 31-Sept. 2.

• Cubs left-hander Travis Wood (4-10, 4.76 ERA) will face the Brewers' Yovani Gallardo (13-8, 3.62) on Tuesday; Jeff Samardzija (8-11, 4.09) will square off with Mike Fiers (7-6, 2.98) in a battle of right-handers on Wednesday; Cubs lefty Brooks Raley will go against Brewers righty Shaun Marcum (5-4, 3.19) in the series finale on Thursday.

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