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MIL@HOU: Lohse limits Astros to one run over six

Considering how often the Cubs see their National League Central rivals, their struggles against the division are cause for concern. Their upcoming series against a team that has given them plenty of trouble may prove to be an additional challenge.

The Cubs and Brewers kick off a three-game series at Miller Park on Tuesday when Edwin Jackson and Kyle Lohse square off.

Milwaukee has won four of the five meetings between the two teams this year, and has outscored Chicago, 24-17, in those meetings. The Brewers are coming off a series victory against the first-place Braves, while the Cubs are coming off a series win against former NL Central foe Houston.

But the Cubs have had plenty of trouble with current NL Central teams, with a 9-24 record within the division. No team in the Majors has so few wins within its own division.

"We're going to Milwaukee, and they always play us tough there. Hopefully, we can match their bats and get on their pitchers early," Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija said. "Hopefully we can keep the momentum going that we had in this series. Some crisp baseball is what we're looking for on the road -- keep the errors down, keep the strikeouts down, keep the pitchers' walks down, and go from there. We're really looking to turn the corner here on this road trip going into July. It's a big road trip, a nice long one, and get away from home a little bit, and finish strong going into the All-Star break would be nice."

Chicago is hitting .208 against the Central, compared to a .245 mark against the NL East and .263 against the NL West.

Lohse, who has plenty of experience within the NL Central, will do his best to keep the Cubs' bats at bay on Tuesday as he searches for his third win of the year. The right-hander hasn't received much run support this season, but he's done his part with four quality starts in a row.

"I'm not going to be selfish about it," Lohse said. "I want this team to get going in the right direction."

He's 1-0 with a 1.35 ERA and 14 strikeouts in his last three starts.

Cubs: Jackson making progress
• After some early-season struggles -- he said he was being too "robotic" and overanalyzing -- Edwin Jackson has been better this month. He's 2-1 with a 2.95 ERA in his last three starts, though he made a critical mistake in his last outing that cost him.

He offered up a 1-2 pitch to Yadier Molina that the Cardinals' catcher hit out of the park for a two-run homer in the St. Louis victory.

"I felt like it wasn't a super-bad outing [against the Cardinals]," Jackson said. "I thought it was a pretty good pitch, but either he was looking for it or he guessed right. It was right in his zone. I threw my pitch with conviction, the pitch I wanted to throw. Sometimes that happens."

• Shortstop Starlin Castro went 2-for-13 with a run and a walk on the homestand, as the Cubs still hope to get him heating up before the break.

"He's struggling, there's no doubt about it, and struggling with the fastball is the biggest thing right now," manager Dale Sveum said. "Hopefully, he can kick back and get away from it and start over in Milwaukee.

"The whole thing is not going real well right now. Hopefully, this day off can recharge him and he can get things going in Milwaukee."

Brewers: Ramirez, Rodriguez closing in on milestones
• Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez is one hit away from becoming the 15th active player with 2,000 career hits.

• Reliever Francisco Rodriguez is tied with Jason Isringhausen and Bruce Sutter for 23rd on the Major League all-time saves list, all with 300. Doug Jones is 22nd with 303.

Worth noting
• After recording zero shutouts through their first 66 games, the Brewers have notched three in their last eight.

• Despite their struggles in the Central, the Cubs are 22-19 outside the division.

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