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MIL@SD: Marcum hurls seven shutout innings

In 2011, Miller Park was a house of horrors for the Cubs, and Friday's 13-inning Milwaukee victory was more of the same.

On Saturday afternoon, the Cubs, who have lost nine straight in Milwaukee and haven't won there since April 9, 2011, aim to put an end to their struggles at Miller Park. They face a Brewers club that is fighting to stay out of the National League Central basement a year after winning the division.

It's the Cubs sitting in last place, but they trail the Brewers by just a game for the distinction nobody is after.

"I don't care if we're in last place or where we are," Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke said. "We need to play better baseball."

Saturday's starter, Shaun Marcum, should keep Roenicke's club in the game. Marcum hasn't allowed more than three earned runs in any of his starts this season.

Marcum picked up a win against the Cubs in his first start of the season -- part of a series in which the Brewers took three of four. But, despite Friday's loss, the Cubs insist they are a different club than they were a month ago.

"There's no doubt we're playing with a lot more confidence than back then, but when we played them last time, it was only four games into the season," Sveum said. "That was early." The biggest difference, Sveum said, has been the starting pitching.

"Our starting pitching has been incredible, and the guys who are pitching in the back end of the game are shutting the door and we're getting the wins," he said. "I don't know if we played any different early in the season, but we were having trouble closing the door in the last couple innings and not getting the big hits."

Saturday's Cubs starter, Chris Volstad, hasn't quite joined that party. He remains in search of his first victory this year, off to an 0-4 start with a 6.55 ERA.

Volstad was given a couple of extra days' rest after his last start, a loss to the Dodgers in which he gave up five runs on four hits over five innings. Against the Brewers, he has made five starts, with a 2.30 ERA and a 1-1 mark.

As for the Brewers, they are hoping Friday's 13-inning win can help them break out of a slide that has seen them drop six of nine.

"I'm taking a positive look at it, and that's we're going through our trials early," Milwaukee catcher Jonathan Lucroy said. "Whereas, last year we kind of went through them a little later. We're going to get on a hot streak here soon and get moving."

One positive for Milwaukee has been the reemergence of Ryan Braun, who got off to a slow start. The reigning NL MVP Award winner is batting .354 with nine homers and 16 RBIs in his last 17 games.

Cubs: Marmol day to day
Reliever Carlos Marmol left Friday night's game because of a strained right hamstring. He is day to day.

Marmol started the seventh inning and retired the first two batters he faced before walking Braun. Aramis Ramirez then hit an RBI double off the right-field wall.

After some struggles, Marmol lost his closer job earlier this month. He is 0-1 with a 5.06 ERA.

• With his walk in the 13th inning on Friday, Cubs first baseman Bryan LaHair extended his on-base streak to 28 consecutive games. It's the longest such streak in the NL this year.

Brewers: Weeks to remain in lineup
Rickie Weeks' struggles won't keep him out of the lineup, Roenicke noted he won't rest his second baseman as a strategy to get him out of a funk.

"We need Rickie to hit," Roenicke said. "So whatever way I can get him to start swinging like he did last year and the years before that. But he's not going to do it when he's sitting on the bench."

Weeks has a .158 average on the season and is hitless in his last 17 at-bats. Over his last 10 games, Weeks has just three hits in 40 at-bats.

• After setting a franchise record with a Major-League best 57 home victories last season, Milwaukee is just 8-8 at Miller Park in 2012.

Worth noting
• Of the seven Brewers with more than five lifetime at-bats against Volstad, only Aramis Ramirez is hitting above .250. But he has hit Volstad hard, batting .429 with a homer and a pair of doubles in 14 at-bats.

• The Brewers have dropped each of their last four series, but need to win just one of the next two games to avoid making it five straight series defeats.

• Milwaukee closer John Axford's blown save on Friday snapped his streak of 49 straight converted save opportunities.

• Despite the Cubs' recent losing streak at Miller Park, they hold the edge, 48-44, in games there.

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