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CHC@PIT: Jackson strikes out five in Cubs debut

A former South Sider will be on the hill for the North Side Cubs on Monday, when they open their 2013 home slate at Wrigley Field against the visiting Brewers.

Opening Day -- and opening week, for that matter -- at Wrigley calls for rain, but the Cubs would like to start their first homestand of the season on a good note. They took two out of three from the division-rival Pirates to begin the year, before being swept by the powerful Braves over the weekend.

"There's only one Opening Day at home," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "It's always a special day, the feeling, the atmosphere and all that, and the fans. Hopefully, we have good weather or decent enough weather -- I don't know how good it's going to be."

Milwaukee, meanwhile, is coming off an 8-7 extra-innings loss to the D-backs on Sunday afternoon and has lost five in a row. It was swept by Arizona after losing the final two of its opening series against the visiting Rockies.

The first pitch at Wrigley on Monday is scheduled for 2:20 p.m. ET.

It'll be Edwin Jackson on the hill for the Cubs. He's making his fourth career start at Wrigley, though he spent parts of two seasons in Chicago with the White Sox. He had an 11-9 record with the South Siders, and dropped his first career outing with the Cubs this week, surrendering just two earned runs and three hits in five innings against the Pirates.

"I'm excited about it," Jackson said of his home debut. "It should be a fun time for everybody, the home opener. We get to officially start the season in front of our home crowd, I'm sure they're excited as well. It should be a good time. Hopefully the weather permits us to play."

The Brewers will counter with right-hander Marco Estrada, who will look to control his off-speed stuff on Monday after struggling in his season debut. He struck out eight Rockies hitters in five innings, but ended up allowing four earned runs on nine hits in five frames.

"I thought I made some good pitches overall, [but] I was disappointed with the off-speed stuff," he said.

Cubs: Marmol out, Fujikawa in

• Sveum said Sunday morning that Carlos Marmol will no longer be the Cubs' closer and that Kyuji Fujikawa will be handling those duties. Neither pitched on Sunday, but there's a good chance that Fujikawa will get his first appearance at Wrigley Field this week.

Fujikawa was a closer for the Hanshin Tigers in Japan for 12 seasons before signing a two-year contract with the Cubs this winter. He has allowed three earned runs and four hits in 2 1/3 innings this year, with one save.

• Jackson is 1-2 in three career starts at Wrigley, with a 7.94 ERA (15 earned runs in 21 innings).

"I've been on both ends of the crowd -- one time I probably got cheered because the [Cubs] were winning, and one time I got booed because we were winning," he said. "I'm looking forward to going out there tomorrow and having fun in front of our home crowd."

Brewers: Axford struggling
It hasn't been a good start to the season for reliever John Axford, who took the loss in Sunday's game after giving up two earned runs on an Eric Hinske home run in the 11th.

He's given up homers in each of his three outings this season (twice against the Rockies, and then Sunday) and has an ERA of 20.25 after the three appearances. He's surrendered six earned runs in 2 2/3 innings of work, striking out four.

He also blew a save on Opening Day against Colorado, but the Brewers pulled out a 5-4 win in 10 innings.

Worth noting
• The forecast on Monday calls for temperatures in the high 60s, but a 50 percent chance of rain and scattered thunderstorms. Temperatures are expected to hover in the 50s for the next couple of days, but there's a 60 percent chance of rain Tuesday, an 80 percent chance on Wednesday and 70 percent chance on Thursday.

• The Brewers won 13 of the 17 meetings between the two teams last season, out-scoring the Cubs, 96-75. Comments