CHICAGO -- "It's going to get better," Ryan Braun promised Friday after a 1-0 loss to the Cubs dropped the Brewers' record to 5-18, leaving them the only National League team -- and one of two in the Majors, with Texas -- yet to win back-to-back games. Braun pointed to the pitcher's mound.
That's where Wily Peralta threw 118 pitches against the Cubs, too high a total for his taste, but good enough to hold Chicago to an Addison Russell home run over six quality innings. It marked more progress for a pitching staff that has delivered six quality starts in the team's past nine games, after only two in the first 14 games of the season.
"Our starters are going to end up with a collective ERA that's significantly lower than what it is right now [5.22]," Braun said. "Our offense will end up with an average higher than what it is right now [.224]. Somehow, some way, those things come close to evening themselves out.
"Wily threw the ball well, continued to make pitches and got himself out of some big jams today, which was impressive. We have all the belief in the world in our starters. There's no doubt that they are trending in the right direction."
That trend has yet to show up in the win-loss record, particularly for Peralta. After going 17-11 with a 3.53 ERA last season and winning the club's pitcher of the year honor, Peralta is 0-4 with a 4.35 ERA in 2015. The Brewers have lost all five of his starts.
Against the Cubs, Peralta threw at least 15 pitches in each of his six innings, including 34 pitches during a third inning that began with Russell hitting his first Major League home run. Peralta had fallen into a full count, tried to go down and away, and instead grooved a fastball.
"I don't want to walk anybody," Peralta said. "But I missed a spot, and that's the ballgame."
He added: "They made me throw a lot of pitches. I was 2-2, 3-2. But I think I did OK and battled through the whole game."
Peralta's defense helped. In the first inning, center fielder Gerardo Parra threw out Dexter Fowler at third trying to take two bases on a single, and catcher Martin Maldonado threw out Anthony Rizzo trying to steal second base. In the sixth, Braun threw out Starlin Castro trying to go first to third on another single.
"[Peralta] is battling too hard for his stuff," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "He's doing a great job because he doesn't have his good command, and he keeps us in ballgames. You look at his outing today, and he gives up one run and it's a really nice job. But he's working way too hard to get to that."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.