Tyler Thornburg's first Major League start of the season left manager Ron Roenicke without a solid explanation. The 24-year-old right-hander, who went 0-9 with a 5.79 ERA in 15 starts at Triple-A Nashville, held the Cubs scoreless for six innings in the second half of a doubleheader on Tuesday at Wrigley Field.
"Obviously, better hitters here. So, it's hard to explain," Roenicke said. "Certainly, confidence has to be a huge deal with what goes on. For some reason, he's confident here. When he's gone out, he's performed well."
He had lasted six innings only twice for Nashville. Against the Cubs, he gave up just four hits and three walks while striking out six. Combined with six big league relief appearances this season, Thornburg owns a 2.22 ERA.
"I was kind of hoping it would turn around in Nashville," he said. "I was trying to get a few good starts in a row there and hopefully get an opportunity up here. That wasn't the case, but I think it came a little bit differently than anyone was expecting."
As for Thornburg's future in the rotation, Roenicke hasn't committed to anything. Thornburg is currently filling in while Yovani Gallardo is on the disabled list, but when Gallardo, Tom Gorzelanny and Marco Estrada return from injuries, he could be back in the bullpen.
"It's getting so difficult to figure out," Roenicke said. "I don't want to make comments on whether he'd stay in or he wouldn't. It changes all the time. I'm not sure what we're going to do."
Thornburg will get another shot to make his case on Monday night, when the Brewers open a four-game series against the Giants at AT&T Park. Milwaukee, which snapped a three-game losing streak on Sunday against the Nationals, is starting a nine-game road trip.
The Giants, who have dropped 10 of their past 14, will counter Thornburg with veteran righty Chad Gaudin (5-2, 2.64 ERA). Gaudin is 5-1 with a 3.00 ERA in his nine starts.
He held the Phillies to one run on four hits in seven innings on Wednesday in Philadelphia, striking out five and walking one. He also added a run-scoring single to snap a streak of 40 hitless at-bats and notch his first career RBI.
Brewers: Roenicke mixes things up
After his team scored a total of one run in the first two games of its weekend series against the Nationals, Roenicke made some lineup changes for Sunday's finale. Logan Schafer replaced the slumping Norichika Aoki in right field and led off and Scooter Gennett stepped in for Rickie Weeks at second base.
The skipper's 81st lineup in 111 games produced eight runs, as Milwaukee salvaged the series finale. It was only their second game with eight runs scored since June 25, and their first that resulted in a victory.
"Every day I write up this lineup, and it's difficult to put people in places where they're going to be for a few days," Roenicke said. "It's always game to game."
Giants: Pence on a roll
Right fielder Hunter Pence went 2-for-4 with a double on Sunday and now has hit safely in 14 of 16 games since the All-Star break. He is 24-for-61 (.393) with five doubles over that span, bumping his season average up to .280 for the first time since July 2.
• Center fielder Gregor Blanco, on the other hand, went 0-for-3 in the leadoff spot on Sunday before being replaced by a pinch-hitter. Blanco is 5-for-49 (.102) with no extra-base hits since July 12.
Giants leadoff hitters entered the day with a .310 on-base percentage, ranked 25th in the Majors.
• The Brewers swept the teams' three-game series in Milwaukee in April. The Giants took two of three in San Francisco last season.
• Milwaukee's just-completed series against the Nationals accounted for its only three home games over a 19-game stretch. The club went 4-3 on its previous road trip.