Brewers-Braves Preview

The Associated Press

After clinching the NL East away from home, the Atlanta Braves are set to return to Turner Field to wrap up the regular season.

They'll be trying to ensure that a majority of their playoff games will be played there, too.

Atlanta tries to improve on its league-best record Monday night against the Milwaukee Brewers, whom they've won eight straight against at home.

Washington's 4-2 loss to Miami on Sunday officially clinched the division for the Braves (92-63), who were still working on an eventual 5-2 road win over the Chicago Cubs. The visiting clubhouse was the site of a beer and champagne-soaked celebration after the club's first division crown in eight years.

Andrelton Simmons provided two home runs, pushing his total to 17 on the year.

"What a great feeling," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "It really is a great feeling to realize we've played 150-some games to get to this point. We knew early on that the Nationals had lost but we still wanted to be able to celebrate and come out with a win. And we did."

Now, Atlanta - which owns the majors' best home record at 52-22 - has its sights set on wrapping up home-field advantage in the NL playoffs. The Braves are currently 1 1/2 games better than St. Louis for the league's top record and have a game in hand.

After three contests with Milwaukee, they'll welcome Philadelphia for a season-ending four-game set.

Mike Minor (13-7, 3.19 ERA) gets the start Monday after going 1-0 and allowing one unearned run in 13 innings over two starts versus Milwaukee last year, but Atlanta would like to see him solve his recent first-inning woes.

All three of the runs he allowed during a six-inning start in a 6-5 loss at Washington on Tuesday came in the first frame. He's surrendered eight first-inning runs over his last six starts and opponents own a .312 on-base percentage against him in the first inning this year compared to a .274 mark overall.

"I've got to limit those runs early on in the game," Minor told the team's official website. "For whatever reason, it's happened a few times this year. I've just got to try to fix that."

The Brewers (69-86) wore the spoiler hat well in their home finale Sunday, claiming a 6-4 win over St. Louis. They figure to have a good chance to give Atlanta trouble, too, considering how scheduled starter Marco Estrada (6-4, 4.26) has looked of late.

Estrada is 2-0 with a 2.62 ERA in seven outings since returning from a strained left hamstring that kept him out for more than two months. He's been especially good in four road starts during that stretch, limiting opponents to two runs over 24 2-3 innings with 23 strikeouts.

He threw 6 2-3 innings in a 5-0 win over the Braves on Sept. 11, 2012, after allowing 11 runs over 11 1-3 innings in his first two career starts against them.

Milwaukee is one of three clubs to shut out Atlanta twice this season, taking two of three at home June 21-23.

Aramis Ramirez is 6 for 14 with a home run off Minor, while Brian McCann is 5 for 11 versus Estrada.

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