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Will Smith tossed a perfect eighth for Milwaukee and Francisco Rodriguez finished for his major league-best 17th save in 18 chances. It was Rodriguez’s first outing since he allowed three runs in the ninth inning of Wednesday’s 4-1 loss to Pittsburgh.

“I was itching to go yesterday. It didn’t work out,” he said. “But as long as I get an opportunity to go out there and pitch, there’s a better chance that I am going to do better than I did three days ago.”

Braun was activated from the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday and played three straight games against the Pirates. Roenicke decided to rest the 2011 NL MVP for the series opener against the lowly Cubs.

Braun, who is batting .316 with six homers and 18 RBIs in 25 games, did not make a rehab start before he rejoined the team.

“You’re going on what the player tells you. If he comes out and feels it again, you’re in trouble,” Roenicke said. “So that’s why we try to take it easy so we’re really protecting ourselves throwing him right out there and something happens and he’s right back on the DL again.”

NOTES: It rained for much of the morning in Chicago, and the gametime temperature was 38 degrees. … Brewers RHP Matt Garza (2-3, 4.98 ERA) is scheduled to face RHP Edwin Jackson (2-3, 4.56 ERA) on Saturday. It will be Garza’s first game at Wrigley Field since he was traded from the Cubs to the Rangers last July. … Roenicke said he hopes Carlos Gomez will be able to play Saturday. The center fielder is nursing a sore back while serving a three-game suspension for his role in a benches-clearing brawl April 20 in Pittsburgh.

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Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap