The Milwaukee Brewers might have the remedy to help bounce back from one of their most disappointing losses of the season.
Back at Miller Park with their ace on the mound, the Brewers try for a seventh straight home win over the Pittsburgh Pirates in the opener of a three-game set Friday afternoon.
Leading 5-0 going to the bottom of the ninth Thursday at Arizona, Milwaukee (46-39) looked like it was headed for a third consecutive win. The Diamondbacks, though, scored six runs without making an out for the improbable comeback victory.
“It was a very tough loss,” said Milwaukee closer Salomon Torres, who blew his first save in his last 15 chances. “It’s just one of those things you have to shake off.”
The loss capped a 5-5 road trip for the Brewers, who are in third place, 4 1/2 games back of NL Central-leading Chicago.
“We’re professional baseball players,” manager Ned Yost told the Brewers’ official Web site. “We don’t like it. It’s not fun, but we’ll be ready to go again (on Friday).”
Hardy has hit safely in 15 straight games, batting .419 (26-for-62) with 10 doubles, five homers and 14 RBIs during that span. He’s hitting .351 with six home runs and 19 RBIs in 19 career games versus Pittsburgh at Miller Park.
Set to open a 10-game homestand, Milwaukee is 25-13 at home and faces the Pirates (40-44) for the first time at Miller Park since going 8-1 versus them there in 2007. The Brewers took two of three at Pittsburgh May 20-22.
Staff ace Ben Sheets (9-2, 2.83 ERA) hopes to bounce back for Milwaukee after allowing five runs and nine hits in seven innings of a 5-0 loss at Minnesota on Sunday.
“I thought I had way better stuff than that,” said Sheets, 5-1 over his last eight starts. “I didn’t get away with any at all.”
Though the right-hander is 7-8 with a 2.97 ERA against the Pirates, he gave up a run and struck out six in a 4-1 victory at Pittsburgh on May 21.
The Pirates enter this contest after taking two of three at Cincinnati, concluding with a 9-5 win on Wednesday.
Xavier Nady went 3-for-5 with two homers and three RBIs for Pittsburgh, which won its first road series since taking two of three at St. Louis from May 13-15.
Hitting .323 this season, Nady is 8-for-18 with four doubles in his last five contests and 6-for-11 with two homers against Milwaukee in 2008.
Tom Gorzelanny (6-6, 6.18) looks for his second straight winning decision for the Pirates. He allowed two runs and eight hits in six innings, but didn’t factor in the decision of a 4-3 loss to Tampa Bay on Sunday.
The left-hander has pitched well against Milwaukee, going 3-0 with a 3.19 ERA in six starts. He allowed two runs in five innings to beat the Brewers 8-4 on May 22.
Pittsburgh’s tattered bullpen will again try to get by after learning Wednesday that closer Matt Capps was lost for about eight weeks because of a shoulder injury.
“We’re going through a tough stretch right now,” said general manager Neal Huntington of Capps, who has 17 saves in 22 chances. “Matt’s a gamer. We know he’s going to be back.”