Giants-Brewers Preview

The Associated Press

While the Milwaukee Brewers still lead the NL Central, they haven't looked much like a first-place team of late.

The San Francisco Giants, owners of the NL's top wild-card spot, appear to have rebounded from a disastrous stretch.

Milwaukee returns home looking to get on track in the first of three against the Giants on Tuesday night.

The Brewers (61-51) have dropped five of seven after closing a 2-4 trek with back-to-back losses to St. Louis. Matt Garza threw six scoreless innings before exiting with a left oblique injury in Sunday's 3-2 defeat as the second-place Cardinals moved within a game of Milwaukee.

The Brewers, who have held at least a share of first place in the division every day since April 5, are hitting .196 with runners in scoring position over their last seven games. Carlos Gomez is 3 for his last 31 with 13 strikeouts and fellow All-Star Jonathan Lucroy is 5 for his last 28.

San Francisco (61-51) is headed in the opposite direction. The Giants have followed a season worst-tying six-game losing streak by outscoring foes 27-13 to win four of five.

Pablo Sandoval went 3 for 5 with three RBIs in Monday's 4-3 road victory over the New York Mets, including a go-ahead double with two outs in the ninth inning. Sandoval has hit safely in five straight, going 8 for 21 with three doubles and five RBIs.

"He hits anything," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "He hits the ball off the plate, he hits it all over the field. That's why they're a good team, because that guy drives in a lot of runs."

The Giants will try to stay hot behind Tim Lincecum (9-7, 4.21 ERA). The right-hander had won four straight starts behind a 0.30 ERA before going 0-2 with an 8.59 ERA in his last three.

Lincecum was tagged for five runs over 3 1-3 innings in Wednesday's 7-5 win over Pittsburgh. He was removed after throwing just 78 pitches in his shortest start of the year.

Lincecum allowed one hit over eight scoreless innings to beat the Brewers 4-1 last August, improving to 2-0 with a 2.70 ERA in his last three outings in the series. Gomez is 1 for 11 in their matchups while Mark Reynolds is 3 for 21 with 13 strikeouts.

Brewers rookie Jimmy Nelson (1-2, 4.30) is set to return to the mound after being pushed back from his scheduled start Saturday due to a blister on his middle finger.

"The main thing is not letting it snowball to where it lingers on," Nelson told MLB's official website. "It's been slowly getting better every day. Of course, I'm anxious to get back out there. My body feels good."

Nelson has gone 0-2 with a 5.71 ERA over three starts while receiving a combined three runs of support since getting called up for the second time July 11. The righty allowed both runs and five hits over seven innings in a 2-0 defeat to the Mets last Sunday.

This marks Nelson's first appearance against the Giants, who have dropped four straight at Miller Park and six of eight in the series overall. Sandoval is 5 for his last 36 versus Milwaukee.

Giants leadoff hitter Angel Pagan is expected to come off the disabled list after missing seven weeks with a back issue. Pagan is batting .307 on the season and .380 in his last 19 games against the Brewers.

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