CHICAGO -- Brewers manager Ron Roenicke expressed confidence Tuesday in a middle relief corps that struggled in three of the team's first four games this season.

The small sample alert certainly applies, but left-hander Manny Parra has surrendered six hits and a walk in his first 2 1/3 innings, and right-hander Tim Dillard has allowed six hits and two walks in his first three innings. Parra has been charged with two earned runs, Dillard five.

The duo was supposed to close out Monday's win over the Cubs but could not. Pitching with a 7-3 lead in the ninth inning, Parra worked ahead of Cubs cleanup hitter Ian Stewart, 0-and-2, but Stewart came back to hit a double. Parra retired the next hitter and made way for Dillard, who walked the only batter he faced.

With the potential tying run on deck, Roenicke was forced to call upon closer John Axford, who had thrown 27 pitches the day before. Axford worked around two errors to convert his 44th consecutive regular-season save, the fifth-longest streak in baseball history and the longest active run of success.

"I thought [Parra] threw the ball better yesterday," Roenicke said. "Dillard, I still think he's trying to find his command. Last year when we called him up, he was pitching really well at Triple-A. We saw some really bad swings from some good hitters.

"I think he needs to get back to that confidence, back to that stage where he can just let it go without aiming the ball."

Dillard played catch under the watch of bullpen coach Stan Kyles on Tuesday afternoon and said it was part of his regular routine.

"Lately I've been too amped up, so I want to slow things down," Dillard said. "Looking back on film of [Monday], the ball was moving a good bit. I just didn't make the necessary adjustments."

Brewers, Greinke table contract talks

CHICAGO -- The Brewers and Zack Greinke's agent have decided to suspend talks about a contract extension, Milwaukee general manager Doug Melvin said Tuesday.

Greinke had been dealing directly with Melvin and principal owner Mark Attanasio during Spring Training, but he rehired agent Casey Close just before Opening Day. Melvin spoke again with Close this week and said the decision to table talks does not mean the sides could not restart a discussion at a later date. At the moment, nothing is scheduled.

"We're going to let it rest right now," Melvin said.

Greinke, 28, will earn $13.5 million in 2012, the final year of a four-year contract he signed with the Royals. He is on a path to be one of baseball's most sought-after free agents next winter.

Greinke had been working without representation for more than a year, he but rehired Close on the same day the Giants made 27-year-old Matt Cain the richest right-hander in baseball history. Cain's six-year, $127.5 million contract reset the landscape for Greinke, who has comparable career numbers.

Greinke has just over seven years of Major League service, and Cain six, but both were on a path to hit free agency in October. Greinke entered the season with a 3.82 ERA and a 1.256 WHIP in 197 starts and 41 relief appearances. Cain entered the year with a 3.35 ERA and a 1.196 WHIP in 203 starts and one relief stint.

Greinke has a Cy Young Award. Cain has a World Series ring.

Greinke declined to talk about those comparisons, sticking to his March 18 pledge that he would no longer address his pending free agency.

Earlier in Spring Training, both sides spoke openly about a willingness to discuss a deal. The Brewers had interest in locking up another No. 1 pitcher alongside Yovani Gallardo and extending Greinke's stay in light of the high cost they paid the Royals in a December 2010 trade -- two top pitching prospects (Jake Odorizzi and Jeremy Jeffress), a young starting shortstop (Alcides Escobar) and a center fielder of the future (Lorenzo Cain). Greinke said he was open to talking because he enjoys the environment in Milwaukee and working for Attanasio, whom Greinke called "the best owner out there."

At one point, Greinke verbalized his options.

"Free agency, I think it could be kind of neat," he said on March 8. "There could be positives to it, and then there could be negatives. It's not like everyone who gets to free agency it ends up working perfectly for them and everything comes true that they want. Sometimes it ends up backfiring on you and you would have been better off signing with the team."

Greinke went 16-6 with a 3.83 ERA in 28 starts last season and won his season debut on Saturday after pitching seven scoreless innings against the Cardinals. His next start is Thursday afternoon against the Cubs.

Last call

Brewers equipment manager Tony Migliaccio broke out the winter parkas for Tuesday's batting practice, and players and coaches wore winter caps, masks and gloves. The temperature at first pitch was 40 degrees.

"It has a lot of effect on the game," manager Ron Roenicke said. "The wind, especially. The cold is one thing, but it's the wind. It seems to go through you. ... It's the way the ball jumps around, and all kinds of goofy things happen when you have the winds."