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MIL@ATL: Lohse fans eight over eight strong innings

The rubber match of this weekend's series between the Brewers and the Cubs will feature two pitchers who have consistently produced quality outings for their teams, though only one of them has the record to show it.

Brewers starter Kyle Lohse has tossed nine quality starts in 11 tries this year, and that consistency has translated to a 2.92 ERA and 6-1 record.

Chicago's Jeff Samardzija, on the other hand, earned his first win against San Francisco in his most recent start. Despite leading the Major Leagues with a 1.68 ERA and going nine for 11 in quality starts, Samardzija has a 1-4 record.

Given the divergent records, it is not surprising that Lohse has received nearly twice as much run support as Samardzija, who ranks fifth to last in baseball with 2.55 runs behind him each game.

Lohse, who has received an average of five runs from his offense, sympathized with Samardzija's tough luck.

"I've gone through some spurts, maybe not throwing the ball quite as well as him, but I've gone through times in my career when I threw the ball well and didn't have the wins to show for it," Lohse said. "As a starting pitcher, the main thing you want to do is keep your team in the game and have a chance to win, and that's something he's doing."

The Brewers' pitching staff hasn't had to worry much lately about getting offensive support. Prior to Saturday, Milwaukee had recorded 10 hits or more in nine straight games, averaging nearly six runs over that stretch.

The Cubs have averaged 3.3 runs a game over their past eight games, dropping five of those.

But the roles were reversed Saturday in Chicago's 8-0 win, and the Brewers know they face an uphill battle on Sunday, when they will look to take the series against the Cubs ace.

"When you face Samardzija when he's on, he's going to be really tough," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "He's always been that way. Even when he first came up and I'd look at his ERA, I'd say it was misleading. When he's on, you're not going to score runs off him. Now he's got the ERA you would expect from a guy that throws the way he does."

Cubs: Castro argues against planned off-day
Anthony Rizzo got Friday off, and the plan was to give Starlin Castro a breather on Sunday in the series finale against the Brewers. But the shortstop went into Cubs manager Rick Renteria's office on Saturday to lobby to play.

After Saturday's game, Renteria said he changed his mind, and Castro was scheduled to start Sunday.

"He came into the dugout, and said, 'Hey, I'm good,'" Renteria said after Saturday's game, an 8-0 win over the Brewers. "We have to pick and choose our battles and when it's the right time. When both we as managers and coaches and players are on the same page and we both feel it, we'll find that time for him."

Castro has started all 53 games at shortstop, and he has said he wants to play all 162, which he did in 2012. He played in 161 games in 2013.

If Castro does change his mind, Darwin Barney would start at shortstop.

Brewers: Still mulling over return date for Aramis
The Brewers know that Aramis Ramirez will do a two-day rehab stint on Sunday and Monday with the Class A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. But Roenicke said they were not sure whether Ramirez would return on Tuesday, when the Brewers wrap up an eight-game homestand, or Wednesday, when the Brewers start a two-game set at Minnesota.

"I think it depends on what he does on Monday," Roenicke said. "If it's a DH spot, he may be able to come back Tuesday if he wants to play, which I think he does. We've discussed both."

If the Brewers wait until Wednesday, Roenicke will have the option to play Ramirez as a designated hitter against the Twins. Roenicke said Ramirez, who has been sidelined for three weeks with a left hamstring strain, was open to moving out of his usual cleanup spot in the lineup. Carlos Gomez has filled that role for the Brewers over the last eight games.

Worth nothing
• Samardzija has struggled against Milwaukee over his career, going 2-5 with a 3.58 ERA in 21 career appearances, including seven starts.

• By not recording a hit Saturday, Ryan Braun ended his hitting streak against the Cubs at 15 games, which had dated back to Aug. 22, 2012.

• Milwaukee's Khris Davis is on a nine-game hitting streak, while Gomez saw his streak end at 10 on Saturday. Comments