An unscheduled day off was just what the Milwaukee Brewers needed. It also set up an unexpected return to St. Louis for newcomer Kyle Lohse.
The Brewers right-hander faces his former Cardinals teammates for the first time Friday night as these NL Central rivals open a three-game series.
With Wednesday's road game against the Chicago Cubs postponed due to inclement weather, the Brewers (2-6) got a day off, as well as another night at home, before heading to St. Louis.
"It comes at a good time for us," left fielder Ryan Braun told the Brewers' official website. "We're obviously not playing well, and nobody enjoys playing in this weather. The combination of those two things, I think we're fortunate to have the day off tonight."
The Brewers' pitching staff has been dreadful so far with a 5.47 ERA - and closer John Axford has already been replaced - but the team has to feel good about Lohse (0-0, 1.50 ERA) taking the hill. Making his Brewers debut after signing a three-year deal toward the end of spring training, the veteran allowed one run and struck out five in six innings of last Friday's 3-1 loss to Arizona.
"Located his pitches well, had good life on his ball," manager Ron Roenicke said.
Lohse, originally scheduled to start Wednesday, might have a little extra on his pitches Friday when he'll face the team he spent the last five seasons with. He went 55-35 with a 3.90 ERA in 137 games with the Cardinals, with last season his best as a major leaguer: 16-3 with a 2.86 ERA.
Lohse is 2-2 with a 3.34 ERA in five starts versus St. Louis, with the last coming in 2007 while with Cincinnati.
He's probably not looking forward to seeing Carlos Beltran, who's a .564 hitter (22 for 39) off him with four homers and six doubles.
Beltran hit his first home run of 2013, and one of the Cardinals' season-high four, in Wednesday's 10-0 victory over Cincinnati. St. Louis (5-4) has won two straight since its bullpen was tagged for nine ninth-inning runs in Monday's 13-4 loss to the Reds.
"It's a great point about resiliency," manager Mike Matheny said. "They certainly showed a different brand the last two days."
Friday's starter Shelby Miller (1-0, 3.38) showed he belongs in the Cardinals' rotation with a solid season debut. Making his second career start, the 22-year-old right-hander held San Francisco to two runs and four hits in 5 1-3 innings of a 6-3 road win Saturday.
Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina, who hit .357 (20 for 56) with three homers and four doubles against the Brewers last season, should be behind the plate when Miller makes his first appearance versus Milwaukee.
First baseman Matt Adams has never faced the Brewers, but that should change as he's gone deep in each of the last two games and is batting .643 (9 for 14) with seven RBIs - one off Beltran's team-best total.
Braun, who has nine hits in 18 at-bats, leads the Brewers with six RBIs despite missing three games with a stiff neck. He hit .268 (15 for 56) with two homers and five doubles against the Cardinals a year ago when Milwaukee dropped nine of 15 matchups - six of nine in St. Louis.
Milwaukee, though, took two of three in its last visit Sept. 7-9.