After a disappointing seven-game road trip put their playoff hopes in jeopardy, the fading Milwaukee Brewers hope success in a three-game series against last season’s World Series champion can spark a comeback in the final week of the regular season.
Milwaukee closed out a 3-4 road trip with a 7-4 loss to Atlanta on Sunday. Chicago, meanwhile, beat Pittsburgh 8-0 and is idle Monday.
The Brewers had a 4-1 lead until giving up four runs, all with two out, in the seventh inning. As the Braves’ Jeff Francoeur rounded second base on Andruw Jones’ RBI single, he made a headfirst dive back to the bag and was called safe.
Milwaukee manager Ned Yost argued the call and was ejected. Francoeur later would score the game-tying run.
“With games of the implication of this right here, and we get this kind of effort,” Yost said, referring to what he saw as poor umpiring throughout the series. “Not one call has gone our way.”
Yost’s team has a tough stretch ahead despite finishing the regular season at home, where it is an NL-best 47-27. Although the Cardinals have lost 14 of their last 17 and have been eliminated from playoff contention, they’ve won six in a row from the Brewers including three straight at Miller Park.
Following this series, the Brewers close the regular season with a four-game set against San Diego, which begins play Monday with a one-half game lead in the wild card race. The Cubs play their final two series of 2007 at Florida and Cincinnati - both teams with losing records.
“We need to win out. That’s clear,” Milwaukee pitcher Chris Capuano told the Brewers’ official Web site. “The Cubs are hot right now. They’re not giving anything away. We have to win it.”
The Brewers haven’t been in the postseason since winning the AL pennant in 1982.
Dave Bush (11-10, 5.20 ERA), who is winless in his last three starts, will take the mound for the Brewers. The right-hander allowed just one run and four hits in six innings on Wednesday against Houston, but Milwaukee lost 5-4 in 10 innings.
Bush is 0-3 with a 9.00 ERA in three career starts against the Cardinals. He pitched seven innings against them on Aug. 16, allowing three runs and seven hits in an 8-0 loss.
Adam Wainwright (13-11, 3.60) faced Bush last month, and will take the mound for the Cardinals on Monday. The right-hander gave up only two hits in seven innings during his first career start against Milwaukee, kicking off a stretch of three straight winning decisions. Overall, Wainwright is 1-0 with a 0.56 ERA in eight career appearances against the Brewers.
Playing their final home game of the season on Sunday, the Cardinals earned a four-game split with the Astros after rallying with three runs in the bottom of the ninth for a 4-3 win.
“It was exciting, especially being the last game here, just to get the win the way it unfolded,” Ankiel said. “It was fun, and I hope the fans enjoyed it.”