The Brewers snapped their five-game losing streak with Monday's 7-4 win. If the Cubs are going to keep their current skid from hitting five games, they're going to have to put together a few more timely hits.
Entering the second act of a three-game series against Milwaukee, the Cubs have hit just .136 (6-for-44) with runners in scoring position this season. They went 2-for-12 in Monday's loss to the Brewers and stranded seven runners, numbers that will have to improve if they want to end their four-game losing streak.
On Tuesday, left-hander Travis Wood takes the mound opposite the Brewers and right-hander Wily Peralta.
"We have to start getting key hits in key situations. You don't have to be a prolific offense with home runs and all that, but timely hitting is as important as anything," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "Everybody will get people on base in the course of the game. It's who drives those guys in, and we have to do a better job of that."
While Sveum stressed the importance of timely hitting amid the Cubs' slow start, he told reporters before Monday's loss that he wasn't going to try to rally his team with any sort of pep talk. Chicago has been outscored, 22-11, in four games since narrowly beating Pittsburgh, 3-2, on Thursday.
"There's certain things you stay away from with players, and one thing is elementary things. They obviously know that," Sveum said. "They don't need me saying anything six games into the season, something they already know."
The Brewers were dealing with a rough stretch of their own before spoiling the Cubs' home opener at Wrigley Field. The Brewers had dropped five straight to the Rockies and D-backs by a combined score of 35-17.
No matter how long the season is or how quickly a hot stretch can erase a losing streak, left fielder Ryan Braun, who went 3-for-4 with two doubles and an RBI on Monday after missing three games because of neck spasms, said the Brewers weren't content to continue their habit of getting off to a slow start.
"It's happened the last few years. It's not a good thing," Braun said. "You never want to get off to a slow start and say, 'It's early.' I don't like saying that at all, because when you're in September, what's the difference? A win is a win, and a loss is a loss. When it's late in the season, you don't say, 'Well, it's late, so it doesn't matter,' right? If you're losing games, you're losing games.
"So you never want to get off to a slow start. At least we've proven over the last few years that we can overcome that, and that's a good thing. We're experienced at getting off to slow starts and turning it around."
Brewers: Peralta looking to bounce back
• Peralta, who entered the year as the Brewers' top prospect, got his 2013 off to a rough start Wednesday in a loss against the Rockies. The right-hander fell behind six of the first seven batters he faced en route to allowing four runs on six hits and three walks while striking out four over 5 1/3 innings.
Peralta said his rhythm "was a little off" but was otherwise unconcerned.
"He's got great stuff, but he's got to learn to get it over the plate, get ahead of hitters," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "[The Rockies] are pretty hot right now swinging the bat, but we've got to do a better job of pitching."
• Right fielder Norichika Aoki followed up his career-high four-hit performance Sunday by reaching base safely the first five times he batted Monday. In all, Aoki went 3-for-4 with two walks, bringing his average through seven games up to .419.
Cubs: Good to be home
While the end result wasn't what the Cubs had hoped for, they were glad to be back at Wrigley Field for their first series at home. After a long Spring Training in Arizona and two road series to start the regular season, the Cubs can finally settle in for a 10-game homestand.
"It feels like we were gone forever," first baseman Anthony Rizzo said, "and it feels good to be back here."
The Cubs lost 101 games last season, but they weren't a particularly poor team at Wrigley Field, compiling a 38-43 record at home compared to a dreadful 23-58 mark on the road.
"As rough a season last year, we were only a couple games under .500 at home," Sveum said. "We played pretty good baseball at home even though we were behind the eight-ball in some areas. What happened to us the other night [in Atlanta, where the Upton brothers hit game-tying and walk-off homers in the ninth inning], those are things that happen at home."
• Wood is coming off a strong 2013 debut, as he held the Pirates to just one hit over six scoreless innings. But he doesn't have an encouraging track record at Wrigley Field, where he's 3-6 with a 4.36 ERA.
• Monday was the first game this season in which the Brewers scored before their opponent. They jumped out to a 5-0 lead against the Cubs and starter Edwin Jackson.