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Brewers look to shake off tough losses vs. Cubs

MILWAUKEE -- The deficit will be 5 1/2 games for the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Central when they take the field against the first-place Chicago Cubs Saturday afternoon.

Despite the margin, Milwaukee still feels good about its chances of reaching the postseason for the first time in six years.

Milwaukee enters the third game of the four-game series on a three-game losing streak. After Corey Knebel allowed a game-winning homer to Adam Frazier Wednesday in Pittsburgh, the Brewers opened the series with consecutive 10-inning losses.

Milwaukee is two games behind the Colorado Rockies for the second wild after Tommy LaStella drew a bases-loaded walk in the 10th to give Chicago a 5-4 win Friday.

"That's' really the last of my concerns," Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said when asked about a possible letdown. "We're going to come out and play hard. That's going to happen. We've lost three tough games. There's no way around that.

"It's tough losing late. You obviously expend a lot when you lose late. We have to deal with it. That's what's happened. Tomorrow is a new day. We'll come in and try to get them."

Left-hander Brent Suter will make be his fourth start since a brief stint on the disabled list for a strained rotator cuff. He's thrown 43, 50 and 64 pitches in his last three starts and should be able to throw 80 to 85 pitches when he makes his second start and fourth overall appearance against the Cubs this season.

Suter held Chicago scoreless over seven innings in their last meeting on July 28, striking out five while scattering four hits and a walk. From there, though, he scuffled and posted an 8.16 ERA over his next three starts before landing on the disabled list.

Chicago will work behind right-hander Kyle Hendricks, who has faced Milwaukee four times in 2017. He is 6-4 with a 2.80 ERA in 19 starts against the Brewers.

A victory Saturday would put the Cubs one step closer to locking down a playoff spot, but manager Joe Maddon isn't ready to celebrate just yet.

"No, not at all," Maddon said. "Let's go play tomorrow's game. I'm interested in one-game winning streaks. We've had two of them. I want another one-game winning streak tomorrow. That's how I look at it."

It'll be a quick turnaround for both teams. The game was originally scheduled for a 6:10 CST p.m. first pitch but was moved to noon to accommodate a national television broadcast.

Maddon said his team will be ready for that, too even if he didn't sound thrilled with the early start.

"They'll be ready to play," he said. "It's such a wonderful idea to play a noon game for national television. I'm really excited about that. Why would you not want your guys getting rest at a really important time of the year? Why would you not want them to go home at about midnight and a play a game 12 hours after that?

The early start likely will impact Milwaukee's bullpen, which has been worked heavily over the last few nights. Counsell used reliever Josh Hader and closer Knebel for multiple innings Friday night, leaving both likely to be unavailable Saturday.

Knebel has thrown 78 pitches while pitching in four of the last five games. Hader has thrown 74 pitches while appearing in three of the last five games.

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