They're not exactly chasing the division title, but for the Brewers and Cubs, the fight to avoid last place in the National League Central is no small thing.
After the Cubs took the series opener on Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field, the division rivals will be back at it again on Saturday. It's the penultimate series meeting of the year for them, and the last in Chicago. Milwaukee has won eight of the 13 meetings thus far.
Entering the series, the Brewers were in fourth place, 21 games behind the first-place Pirates, but the opener brought the clubs to an even 21 1/2 back.
"It is what it is," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "Finishing fourth, fifth -- if you're not finishing first or going to the playoffs, it's not a good season. You're just trying to do some things and just win that game that day."
Milwaukee on Saturday will turn to righty Johnny Hellweg as he looks to show that his first stint in the Majors -- 10.97 ERA in three starts and a relief outing -- was a fluke. He was recalled on Tuesday from Triple-A Nashville, and he's still in search of his first big league win.
The 6-foot-9 right-hander is the Brewers' No. 3 prospect as ranked by MLB.com and on Friday was named the 2013 Brewers Minor League Pitcher of the Year.
"I'm [looking] to show them that I can do what I was doing [in Triple-A] up here," Hellweg said. "It's just a mindset [that] it's going to be the same results if I do the same thing [that I did in Triple-A]."
The Cubs will counter with right-hander Jake Arrieta, who wasn't pleased with himself after his most recent outing, as he felt he didn't throw enough first-pitch strikes. He's still struck out 21 in his last 28 2/3 innings and figures to be a part of the Chicago rotation for some time.
"I've developed some comfort here, the staff has been great so far, and I look forward to continuing relationships with the staff and players, because that's a huge part of every team, the chemistry and camaraderie in the clubhouse," Arrieta said of his hopeful future with the Cubs.
"There will be times when struggles come into play, but it's a matter of minimizing the struggles. I have to get over the hump of compounding difficult starts. When I'm able to do that, then I'm in the right spot. Not only will I benefit, but the organization and the team will see the reward as well."
The Brewers are 12-8 over their last 20 road games and 4-0-2 over their last six road series. They're 61-63 all-time at Wrigley Field.
Cubs: Home-r happy
With Junior Lake's grand slam on Friday, the Cubs have 95 home runs at home, their most at Wrigley since hitting 106 there in 2008.
Lake's was the Cubs' third grand slam of the season. All three have come at Wrigley Field.
Brewers: Davis hurting
Outfielder Khris Davis was scratched with soreness in his left wrist before Friday's game and is considered day to day. Logan Schafer replaced him in left and hit eighth in the series opener, going 1-for-4 with two strikeouts.
• Jean Segura is looking to become just the second player in franchise history to lead the league in stolen bases. He would join Scott Podsednik, who led the big leagues with 70 in 2004. As of Friday afternoon, Segura led the National League, with 40.
• Cubs right-hander Michael Bowden and outfielder Cole Gillespie cleared waivers and were outrighted to Triple-A Iowa on Friday.
• Milwaukee announced that the Brewers' afternoon game on Sept. 22 against the Cardinals has been changed to a 7:05 p.m. CT start to accommodate a national telecast by ESPN.
• The Brewers are amid a stretch in which they're playing 32 of 35 games against NL Central opponents. They're 8-12 so far, and with a three-game series against the Angels (0-3) out of the way, their next game against a nondivision opponent will come on Sept. 23, against the Braves.