CHICAGO -- The weary Chicago Cubs are scheduled to play a game for the 21st straight day Thursday -- the latest in a run of 24 consecutive dates -- as the Atlanta Braves arrive for a one-off makeup game.
The match completes a three-game Wrigley Field series from late April and works out perfectly for the Braves, who open a three-game series with the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on Friday.
But the rescheduled night game does the Cubs no favors since Thursday was originally off-day and getaway day for a trip to Pittsburgh and a three-game series that carries Chicago to the All-Star break.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon tried to give his pitching staff an extra day off during the long run. He brought up right-hander Adam Warren from Triple-A Iowa for a spot start on Wednesday -- his first of the season.
"We thought it was the most optimal moment to attempt to do something like this," Maddon said.
Warren worked five innings and gave up just one run on three hits while striking out six. He retired the last 11 batters he faced.
Whether he gets another shot after the All Star break hasn't been determined but he believes he's made a case to stay.
The regular rotation resumes on Thursday with Jason Hammel, Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester and John Lackey working consecutive games into the All-Star break.
All four suffered losses in their previous starts.
The Cubs collectively are slumping since late June with a 5-12 record while losing four of five series in the span.
"I really can't explain it right now but we're still going to try to go out there and get the job done," said shortstop Addison Russell. "Obviously the past few weeks it hasn't been working but we still have high hope and high faith."
Most of the Cubs will get four days away from baseball next week before resuming the season on July 15 at home against Texas.
But seven won't get time off, instead traveling to San Diego where they will participate in the All-Star Game.
Five Cubs -- first baseman Anthony Rizzo, second baseman Ben Zobrist, Russell, third baseman Kris Bryant and outfielder Dexter Fowler -- were voted National League starters while pitchers Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester were also named to the roster.
On Thursday, Hammel (7-5) will make his 17th start and just his seventh at home. In his last outing he gave up a career-high five home runs and 10 earned runs over four innings in a 10-2 loss to the Mets. The Cubs are 0-5 in his last five starts.
Chicago and Atlanta split the two other games in an early season series as Pedro Strop picked up the win in relief in a 6-1 decision on April 29. Reliever Hector Rondon was tagged with the loss in a 4-3 decision on May 1.
While the Cubs are struggling of late, the Braves are even worse.
Atlanta started the season with nine straight losses and was 6-18 by the time it left Chicago on May 1.
Fortunes haven't improved since. Atlanta (28-57) has dropped 10 of its last 13 and Philadelphia completed a four-game sweep of the Braves with Wednesday's 4-3 victory.
On Thursday, right-hander Lucas Harrell (1-0, 1.50) makes his second appearance and start since the Braves selected his contract from Triple-A Gwinnett on July 2.
Harrell, 31, worked six innings and allowed one run on three hits in his lone appearance -- a 9-1 Braves victory over Miami on July 2.
It was his first big league appearance since April 15, 2014, while with the Astros.
After Thursday, the Braves move on to play the Chicago White Sox in a weekend inter-league series.