(SportsNetwork.com) - The Milwaukee Brewers look to pad their lead in the National League Central Division on Friday when they begin a three-game series with the last-place Chicago Cubs at Miller Park.
At 16-6, Milwaukee owns the best record in the majors. While much of that early success has come on the road (9-1), the team did improve its home record to 7-5 with Wednesday's 5-2, series-clinching win over the San Diego Padres.
Kyle Lohse surrendered just one earned run in seven innings, while Jean Segura delivered a three-run homer and Khris Davis tacked on a solo shot for an offense that had largely struggled at Miller Park.
The Brewers have won five of their last six games overall.
Chicago lost the final two games of its four-game series with Arizona after winning the first two. On Thursday, the Cubs were dealt a 5-2 setback to spoil a quality start from Edwin Jackson, who went seven innings and gave up three runs.
Taking the mound in Friday's series opener for Chicago is right-hander Carlos Villanueva, who pitched as a swing man for Milwaukee from 2006-10. This could be his last start for Chicago in the foreseeable future with Jake Arrieta nearing a return. Villanueva gave up a career-high nine runs in three innings at St. Louis on April 12, then followed that up by allowing five runs in 4 2/3 innings of Sunday's 8-2 loss to Cincinnati.
"We all know what the plan is, it's no major secret," Villanueva said. "If I have to go down to the bullpen, I'll keep working my butt off and try to help out there."
Meanwhile, Milwaukee will send right-hander Matt Garza to the mound to face his former team for the first time. Garza, who pitched for the Cubs from 2011 until being traded away last summer, is still seeking his first win for a Brewers club that signed him to a four-year $50 million deal, the richest free agent contract in team history.
"Not really," he told reporters when asked if there was any significance about facing his former squad. "There's your answer. It's another ballgame."
In his last start, Garza was done in by a five-run fourth inning after second baseman Rickie Weeks misplayed a routine double-play grounder. Garza entered Friday 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA.
"I think the last game where we didn't play well behind him defensively and he had the tough inning, it may have gotten to him a little bit," manager Ron Roenicke said. "But I thought he kept his composure and still tried to make pitches. Sometimes we're not making plays, and sometimes he makes a good pitch and they roll one right between somebody. It's always a little bit of both.
"He can definitely throw the ball better, and I've seen better. Hopefully we get him in a groove where we see this consistency from him and we get a lot of good outings in a row."
This marks the first of 19 scheduled matchups between the Brewers and Cubs this season. Milwaukee went 13-6 against Chicago last season.