National League Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, April 7th (All times eastern)
Atlanta Braves (3-3) at Milwaukee Brewers (2-4), 1:40 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Atlanta - Tommy Hanson (0-1, 7.36) Milwaukee - Shaun Marcum (0-1, 5.79)
(Sports Network) - A return home seems to be working out well for the Milwaukee Brewers, who'll be attempting to earn a series win over the Atlanta Braves when the teams wrap up a four-game set this afternoon at Miller Park.
Expected to be among the top contenders in the National League Central, the Brewers stumbled out of the gates in 2011 by losing three straight matchups at defending division champion Cincinnati over the weekend. Milwaukee then dropped a 2-1 decision to the Braves in Monday's opener of this series, but has rebounded to take the next two tests.
Yovani Gallardo's two-hit shutout led the Brewers to a hard-fought 1-0 triumph on Tuesday, but Milwaukee had its offense show the way last night. Prince Fielder broke out of an early slump with a 3-for-4, three-RBI performance at the plate, while Mark Kotsay and Yuniesky Betancourt each had two hits and knocked in a run in the 5-4 win.
Marco Estrada, called up from the minors prior to the game, threw six effective innings for the Brewers to record his first major-league victory. The right- hander limited Atlanta to one run over the first five frames, though he did surrender a three-run homer to Jason Heyward in the top of the sixth.
"I wish I hadn't thrown that ball right down the middle to Heyward," Estrada said afterward. "Other than that, I felt great. We won the game, that's what matters."
A Milwaukee bullpen that has struggled during the early portion of this season was able to protect the one-run lead, with Zach Braddock, Kameron Loe and closer John Axford tossing a scoreless inning apiece.
Atlanta's Mike Minor did not have a good season debut, with the young hurler tagged for five runs on seven hits and issuing four walks in 4 1/3 innings. The 2009 first-round draft pick was just promoted from Triple-A Gwinnett after the Braves were forced to place Jair Jurrjens on the disabled list.
"It was just one of those days for me," Minor said. "The defense and hitters did their job, but not me. I feel I let the team down because we scored and you're supposed to put up a zero and obviously, I didn't do that."
The Braves will now try to close out their season-opening seven-game road trip with a winning mark and send Tommy Hanson to the mound in this afternoon's finale. The talented righty wasn't sharp in his first outing of the season, lasting only 3 2/3 innings in a 6-3 defeat at Washington this past Saturday.
Hanson was reached for four runs (three earned) and five hits by the Nationals, and walked two batters while throwing just 38-of-68 pitches for strikes.
The 24-year-old is 1-2 with a 3.81 ERA over four career starts against Milwaukee, but has yielded a mere two runs in a combined 15 innings in two previous visits to Miller Park.
Like Hanson, Milwaukee's Shaun Marcum takes the hill this afternoon this afternoon looking to atone for a poor showing in his initial start. The offseason pickup was hung with a loss by the Reds on Saturday after allowing four runs (three earned) in 4 2/3 innings. He did struck out seven batters on the night, but walked five.
The Brewers acquired Marcum in a trade with Toronto over the winter, and he won a career-best 13 games while producing a 3.64 ERA and 165 strikeouts for the Blue Jays last season. The right-hander has never previously faced the Braves.
The Braves won five of seven games against the Brewers last season and recorded a three-game sweep at Miller Park from May 10-12.
04/07 10:31:47 ET