Padres-Brewers Preview

The Associated Press

While consecutive victories against arguably the worst team in the majors isn't something to get overly excited about, the Milwaukee Brewers hope it's at least the beginning of good things to come.

The Brewers look for a season-high third straight home win Friday night while trying to extend the San Diego Padres' road skid to seven games.

Norichika Aoki hit a pair of home runs, including the game-winner in the 10th inning of a 4-3 victory over Chicago on Thursday. The win was the seventh in 10 games for the injury-plagued Brewers (26-31), who had lost three straight series at Miller Park before taking two of three from the lowly Cubs.

"We need to start winning a lot of (series),'' said manager Ron Roenicke, whose club is 14-16 at home after it was a major league-best 57-24 last season.

With key players like Jonathan Lucroy, Mat Gamel, Alex Gonzalez and Chris Narveson injured, the Brewers need the likes of Aoki to step up if the team hopes to contend for a postseason spot.

A three-time Japanese Central League batting champ, Aoki is batting .303 with three homers and nine RBIs in 49 games during his rookie season. He has three hits in each of the last two contests.

"He squares up the ball, and it takes off,'' Roenicke said.

Milwaukee could have third baseman Aramis Ramirez back in the lineup from a strained quadriceps. The veteran missed the previous three games before drawing a walk as a pinch-hitter Thursday. He's batting .349 with three homers and 11 RBIs in his last 12 contests.

Corey Hart, who had a game-tying double in the eighth, is 7 for 15 in his last four home games versus San Diego.

The Brewers were limited to eight runs while losing two of three at San Diego earlier this season, but they have won five of seven at Miller Park against the Padres (19-39).

San Diego has scored 17 runs during its six-game road skid and is a major league-worst 5-19 away from Petco Park.

There's a good chance Milwaukee can add to those troubles behind scheduled starter Shaun Marcum (4-3, 3.39 ERA), who has allowed a run over seven innings in each of his last two starts. The most recent in Saturday's 5-1 victory over Pittsburgh.

"He continues to challenge hitters' discipline and bite," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.

Perhaps his best outing of the season came May 1 at San Diego, when he gave up three hits in seven scoreless innings of a 2-0 loss. Marcum is 2-0 with a 3.15 ERA in three starts against the Padres.

San Diego dropped the final two on a 2-4 homestand, 8-3 to San Francisco on Thursday. Chase Headley and Everth Cabrera each had three hits for the Padres, who have lost 13 of 16.

"We have a pretty strong group in there,'' said manager Bud Black, whose team ranks near the bottom of the majors with 190 runs. "Right now it's just not happening for us.''

Headley's batting .326 with three homers and six RBIs in his last 11 games at Miller Park.

Scheduled San Diego starter Edinson Volquez (2-5, 3.42) is 0-3 with a 4.76 ERA in four starts since winning at Philadelphia on May 12, but his teammates have totaled three runs in those four contests. The right-hander allowed two runs but walked five in six innings while not factoring in the decision of a 4-2 loss to Arizona on Saturday.

Volquez, who yielded three hits in seven innings when matched up with Marcum on May 1, is 3-2 with a 5.17 ERA in nine starts versus Milwaukee.

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