Pursuing their first playoff berth in 26 years, the Milwaukee Brewers suffered a disheartening loss their last time out. Another three-game series against the struggling Pittsburgh Pirates could be just what they need to bounce back.
After sweeping a three-game set from the Pirates last weekend in Milwaukee, the Brewers look to continue their dominance over Pittsburgh on Friday at PNC Park.
Milwaukee (77-56), battling to keep up with first-place Chicago in the NL Central, had its five-game winning streak end with a 5-3 loss to St. Louis on Wednesday. The defeat came in heartbreaking fashion, as the Cardinals rallied for four runs in the bottom of the eighth.
The Brewers hold the wild-card lead as they try to make the postseason for the first time since 1982, but St. Louis moved within 3 1/2 games of Milwaukee.
“Yeah, a game slipped away, but at the same time we played pretty well,” Wednesday’s starting pitcher Manny Parra told the team’s official Web site. “I have a lot of confidence in the way our team is playing.”
The Brewers have certainly displayed confidence against Pittsburgh (57-76) this season.
Milwaukee has won a franchise-record six straight over the Pirates and eight of nine meetings this year. The Brewers have outscored Pittsburgh 42-18 during their winning streak and are batting .330 with 15 home runs and 57 runs in the season series.
Milwaukee hasn’t been the only team giving the Pirates problems lately, as Pittsburgh fell 2-0 to the Cubs on Wednesday for their season-high seventh straight loss and 11th in 13 games.
The Brewers’ J.J. Hardy is hitting .472 with four homers and 10 RBIs versus the Pirates this season, while Mike Cameron is batting .429 with four homers and seven RBIs. Neither player, however, has limited his hot hitting to Pittsburgh lately.
Hardy had three hits and a RBI on Wednesday and is batting .432 with three homers and 12 RBIs in his last 10 games. Cameron had two hits and drove in a run Wednesday and is hitting .366 with eight home runs, 18 RBIs, 17 runs and seven stolen bases in 23 games this month.
The Brewers have also had plenty of success behind Dave Bush (8-9, 4.24 ERA), who looks to win a career-best fourth straight decision as he makes his second consecutive start against the Pirates.
Bush is 3-0 with a 2.30 ERA in his four starts this month, with Milwaukee winning each of those games. The Brewers have won seven of Bush’s last eight starts after taking just six of his first 16.
The right-hander allowed three runs and seven hits in seven innings of a 10-4 victory over Pittsburgh on Friday.
Bush has a 2.40 ERA in his last two starts against the Pirates - both at home - after yielding six runs in five innings of an 8-4 loss at Pittsburgh on May 22. Bush, born in Pittsburgh, is 0-2 with a 6.43 ERA in four starts at PNC Park.
The Pirates counter with Tom Gorzelanny (6-8, 6.82), who’s probably not thrilled about making his third consecutive start against the Brewers.
After being reached for a career-high eight runs and 11 hits in 4 2-3 innings of a 9-1 loss at Milwaukee on July 4, Gorzelanny was demoted to Triple-A Indianapolis. The left-hander was recalled Saturday and started against the Brewers, yielding six runs and seven hits in 4 2-3 innings of a 6-3 loss at Miller Park.
In his only home start of the season versus the Brewers, Gorzelanny gave up two runs and eight hits in five innings of an 8-4 victory May 22. He’s 2-0 with a 2.81 ERA in four home starts against Milwaukee.