The Milwaukee Brewers have bolstered the best home record in the majors by mowing down the opposition for much of the last week at Miller Park.
After struggling against much lesser competition, the St. Louis Cardinals cannot afford to keep tumbling down the NL Central standings.
With a pair of Cy Young Award winners set to meet again, Milwaukee and St. Louis begin a three-game set on Monday night.
The Brewers are 4-2 against the Cardinals this year, including a three-game sweep June 10-12 in Milwaukee.
“We played a nice series against them last time. We need to continue to have a nice series again and just keep playing this type of ball,” manager Ron Roenicke said after Milwaukee improved to 6-0 on its nine-game homestand with a 5-4 win over Houston on Sunday.
The Brewers (60-49), who have a 2 1/2-game lead over the Cardinals, own the best home record in the majors at 39-14.
“At home, we’re always on a good roll, it seems like,” said Prince Fielder(notes), who drove in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning. “So, just keep playing the way we’ve been playing. No matter what happens, we can be happy with that.”
On July 24, St. Louis was in a virtual tie atop the Central with Milwaukee and Pittsburgh heading into a seven-game homestand against the Astros and Chicago Cubs - the bottom two teams in the division. The Cardinals, though, finished with a disappointing 4-3 mark after falling 6-3 on Sunday.
“Two out of three from the Cubs is nothing to sneeze at,” said Lance Berkman(notes), who drove in all three runs with his NL-leading 28th homer. “I think if you want to poo-poo the homestand, one of those games against the Astros we should have won, and it would have been three out of four.”
St. Louis is 28-27 away from home this season, but has yet to sweep a road series from an NL foe.
Carpenter was bested by Greinke in the Brewers’ 5-3 win on June 11. The 2009 AL Cy Young winner won his fourth straight start with that outing and improved to 6-1 for Milwaukee after giving up three runs with nine strikeouts in seven innings.
Carpenter, named the NL’s top pitcher in 2005, yielded five runs over six innings and dropped to 1-6. The right-hander would lose his next appearance, but has since gone 5-0 with a 2.21 ERA in seven starts.
He didn’t receive a decision in Wednesday’s 4-2 loss to Houston after giving up two runs and eight hits with eight strikeouts in seven innings.
Carpenter is 2-2 all-time in Milwaukee, but hasn’t won there since firing a one-hitter while striking out 10 in the Cardinals’ 3-0 victory on Sept. 7, 2009.
Meanwhile, Greinke will be trying to win consecutive starts for the first time in nearly two months. The right-hander had been 0-2 in five starts before allowing three hits with nine strikeouts in 6 2-3 innings of a 2-0 win over the Cubs on Wednesday.
Greinke is averaging 11.78 strikeouts per nine innings, but cannot yet qualify after missing the first month of the season with a fractured rib.