Brewers-White Sox Preview


The series opener between the Chicago White Sox and Milwaukee Brewers was a classic pitchers' duel.

The middle game at U.S. Cellular Field doesn't seem like it will follow suit.

Batters could take the spotlight Saturday night, when the recently recalled Dylan Axelrod takes the ball for the White Sox against the Brewers' Randy Wolf, who is mired in a nine-start winless drought.

A matchup between Chicago's Chris Sale and Milwaukee's Zack Greinke on Friday had the potential of being a low-scoring affair, and it certainly lived up to that billing. Neither team scored until the 10th inning when Ricky Weeks hit a run-scoring single off reliever Jesse Crain to lift the Brewers to a 1-0 victory.

Milwaukee (33-37) won for the fifth time in seven games to pull within 5 1/2 of NL Central-leading Cincinnati, while the White Sox (36-34) have dropped seven of nine to fall 1 1/2 games back of first-place Cleveland in the AL Central.

The Brewers finally pulled out a close win after their lost five losses each came by one run, thanks to a dominant pitching performance and a clutch hit. Greinke ended up allowing three hits and a walk in nine innings, while Sale gave up four hits and a walk in eight.

"You're looking at two pitchers that were ... just moving it in and out, back and forth,'' Chicago manager Robin Ventura said. "I think both of them were doing that all night. It's not just one pitch that they have.''

While the starting pitchers were the story Friday, Ryan Braun, Corey Hart, Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko, who were a combined 1 for 14 with two walks in the opener, could have more of an impact Saturday.

Axelrod (0-1, 3.52 ERA) was recalled from Triple-A Charlotte on Tuesday to take the place of demoted reliever Zach Stewart. He'll make his first appearance, though, in the rotation for Philip Humber, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list prior to Friday's game because of a right elbow flexor strain.

Axelrod, who made his major league debut last season, appeared in three games for the White Sox earlier this year. In his lone start in Detroit on May 6, he allowed two runs on a pair of solo homers in 4 1-3 innings of a 3-1 loss.

"It's an opportunity for me to do what I've done and prove myself for a little bit of an extended time," said Axelrod, who was 5-4 with a 3.18 ERA and 66 strikeouts in 68 innings for the Knights.

Wolf (2-5, 5.11) hasn't won since April 30, but the winless stretch isn't entirely his fault.

In each of his last three starts and in four of his last five, he left with a lead only to have the Milwaukee bullpen fail to hold it. Against Toronto on Monday, Wolf exited with one out in the seventh with a 6-3 lead, but later in the inning Kameron Loe served up a game-tying three-run homer. At least the Brewers were able to rally for a 7-6 win, just their third victory during Wolf's winless drought.

Wolf, who hasn't won since beating San Diego on April 30, hasn't gone 10 consecutive starts without a victory since his rookie season of 1999.

This will be his first start against the White Sox since 2009, when he allowed five runs and three homers in 3 1-2 innings of a 10-7 loss for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

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