The Milwaukee Brewers had a rough trip, but they’re still atop the NL Central.
The Brewers look to extend their best home start in franchise history Monday night when they host the Tampa Bay Rays for the first time.
After knocking St. Louis out of the Central lead for the first time since May 19 with a three-game sweep in its last home series June 10-12, Milwaukee (40-33) fell into a first-place tie with the Cardinals following a 2-5 trip.
The Brewers were outscored 24-11 while losing two of three to Boston over the weekend.
Milwaukee, though, is a major league-best 25-9 at home. The club opens its six-game stretch at Miller Park with Chris Narveson(notes) (4-4, 4.48 ERA) trying to win a career-high third consecutive start.
Manager Ron Roenicke needs Narveson to go deep in this game after his bullpen logged 14 innings against the Red Sox. Shaun Marcum(notes) left after one inning of Friday’s 10-4 loss with a strained left hip flexor and Yovani Gallardo(notes) lasted three-plus innings Sunday, getting tagged for eight runs - five earned.
“I thought coming into this ball park, I thought they’d hold down this good offense and they didn’t,” Roenicke said following Sunday’s 12-3 loss.
Narveson will try for a better effort than in a 9-5 win over the Cubs on Wednesday when he allowed four runs and six hits over 5 1-3 innings.
“It was tough having to sit around for a couple of hours before the game (with a rain delay), but, mentally, I felt strong,” Narveson told the Brewers’ official website.
The left-hander will face the Rays for the first time.
Tampa Bay (39-33) opens its six-game trip after sweeping Florida in a three-game set. While the Rays improved to .500 at home for the first time since May 13 with Sunday’s 2-1 win, manager Joe Maddon’s team is 21-15 on the road.
Tampa Bay has never played at Milwaukee, but it won two of three at home in the teams’ only series from June 13-15, 2005.
Prince Fielder(notes) went 2 for 8 with two doubles and an RBI while making his major league debut during that series. The Brewers first baseman, 8 for 17 with five homers and nine RBIs in six home games this month, gets his first look at Jeff Niemann(notes) (1-4, 5.74).
The Rays right-hander will be activated prior to this game from the 15-day disabled list. Niemann, who was taken out of his last start May 4 against Toronto, pitched 5 1-3 scoreless innings Tuesday for Triple-A Durham.
“I’ve been working and doing everything I can,” Niemann told the Rays’ official website.
Ryan Braun(notes), who will face Rays pitching for the first time, will try to match a season high by hitting safely in his 13th consecutive game. Braun will likely be in left field Monday after being the designated hitter Sunday.
Milwaukee won five of its last six interleague home games in 2010.