Milwaukee (76-52) at Pittsburgh (59-66)

Cloudy Currently: Pittsburgh, PA
Temp: 66° F
  • Game info: 5:05 pm EDT Mon Aug 22, 2011
Preview | Box Score | Recap

There could be few scenarios less enticing to the Pittsburgh Pirates than facing the Milwaukee Brewers.

Playing them twice in one night might qualify.

A twi-night doubleheader Monday night at PNC Park kicks off a four-game set between the Pirates and the red-hot Brewers, who have won 22 of 25 overall and 12 straight over a team they actually trailed in the NL Central standings when that surge began.

The Brewers (76-52) have won 44 of the 55 games they’ve played against the Pirates since 2008, and while a majority of that one-sidedness has occurred in Milwaukee - they’re 28-2 at home - they’re 16-9 in Pittsburgh.

They’ve outscored the Pirates 68-29 while winning the last 12 games in the series - including three Aug. 12-14 at Miller Park.

Then again, no team has been able to slow Milwaukee lately. The Brewers capped a three-game sweep of the New York Mets on Sunday, scoring twice in the eighth and twice more in the ninth to turn a tie game into a 6-2 victory.

Milwaukee, which was one-half game behind both Pittsburgh (59-66) and St. Louis when it began its remarkable run July 26, now leads the second-place Cardinals by 8 1/2 games - not that manager Ron Roenicke is ready to celebrate with 34 games remaining.

“I know you guys get tired of me saying it, but we’ve still got a lot of games to play,” Roenicke told the Brewers’ official website. “Hey, I love where we are. But it’s far from over.”

Visions of contention are over for the Pirates, who have gone 6-19 during Milwaukee’s hot streak to fall 15 1/2 games off the pace.

Pittsburgh dropped two of three to Cincinnati over the weekend, with an unlikely culprit taking both losses. All-Star closer Joel Hanrahan(notes) came into a tie game Friday and wound up giving up three runs in an 11-8 defeat, then couldn’t hold a 4-3 lead Sunday in a 5-4 loss that was the team’s first in 53 chances when leading after eight innings.

“Everybody goes through a tough stretch,” Hanrahan told the Pirates’ official website. “Mine is right now, I guess.”

Hanrahan likely won’t be available for either game Monday after pitching three consecutive days, but Pittsburgh hasn’t needed its closer often against Milwaukee. It has three saves in the past 55 games against the Brewers, though Hanrahan blew one Aug. 14 when he gave up the tying run in the eighth.

Despite all that, Brad Lincoln(notes) (0-0, 5.40 ERA), who will start the nightcap for the Pirates, says his team can’t let Milwaukee get inside its heads.

“If you go out there intimidated, you’re not going to do very well,” Lincoln told the Pirates’ official website. “If you go out there and have that ‘don’t give a you-know-what’ attitude, you will more likely come out on top. But if you go out there scared to lose, bad things are going to happen.”

Lincoln, who’s making his second start of the season, has a 10.80 ERA in two career starts versus Milwaukee.

He’ll be opposed by Zack Greinke(notes) (12-4, 3.92), who is 5-0 with a 1.57 ERA in his last five outings. He held the Dodgers to one run over seven innings of a 3-1 victory on Wednesday, five days after he limited Pittsburgh to two runs in 7 2-3.

Though Greinke - who’s 3-0 with a 4.26 ERA against the Pirates - is 9-0 at home, he’s 3-4 with a 5.01 ERA in nine road starts.

Chris Narveson(notes) (8-6, 4.49) will return from the disabled list to pitch the opener for the Brewers, his first start since lacerating his left thumb while trying to repair his glove with scissors.

The left-hander is 3-0 with a 2.84 ERA in his last three starts versus Pittsburgh.

Jeff Karstens(notes) (9-6, 3.12) will get the first chance to end the Pirates’ skid against Milwaukee. He gave up three runs over 5 1-3 innings Tuesday in Pittsburgh’s 5-4, 11-inning win over St. Louis, but has a 6.75 ERA over his last five starts.

Karstens is 0-4 with a 4.50 ERA in seven starts against the Brewers, giving up a startling 11 homers in his last 27 2-3 innings. Prince Fielder(notes) has taken him deep three times in 15 at-bats, while Ryan Braun(notes) has homered twice in 19.

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Starting Pitchers

C. Narveson Mia vs. J. Karstens Pit
11-8 Record 9-9
4.45 ERA 3.38
126 K 96
65 BB 33
1.39 WHIP 1.21


Monday, Aug 22