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National League Preview from The Sports Network



Tuesday, August 9th (All times Eastern)

Milwaukee Brewers (65-50) at St. Louis Cardinals (62-53), 8:15 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Milwaukee - Shaun Marcum (10-3, 3.58) St. Louis - Edwin Jackson (1-1, 5.79)

(Sports Network) - Last week's meeting between National League Central rivals Milwaukee and St. Louis had a little bit of everything: close games, blowouts, hit batters and trash talk.

With three games still separating the clubs in the standings, the rivalry shifts to Busch Stadium tonight as the Cardinals play the first of three straight against the first-place Brewers.

The distance between these clubs in the division was 2 1/2 games when they met last week in Milwaukee, with the Brewers picking up a game by taking two of three in the series. Both squads went on to sweep their next respective set as Milwaukee scored 22 runs in a three-game breeze through Houston, while St. Louis swept a four-game set over the Marlins in Florida for the first time in club history.

The potential for fireworks is there after what happened between the teams last week. Tuesday's meeting got heated when Albert Pujols was hit on the left hand area by a pitch in the top of the seventh inning, an action that was met with response in the bottom of the frame when Milwaukee's Ryan Braun was hit in the back.

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa complained about the tendency of clubs to pitching high and inside, while Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy was upset about St. Louis going after Braun.

"That's clearly intentional. That's ridiculous," said Lucroy. "There's no way that we were trying to hit Pujols on purpose. Are you kidding me? In that situation? If we wanted to put him on base, we would have walked him."

No ejections came from the incidents, but St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina was tossed in the 10th inning of St. Louis' victory that night for bumping home plate umpire Rob Drake during an argument after a called third strike. Molina also appeared to spit on Drake, though he did deny doing so.

Regardless, Molina was issued a five-game suspension and did not appeal, meaning he will be eligible to return for Wednesday's game.

Pujols, meanwhile, hasn't shown any issues with his left wrist, which he broke earlier in the season, as he homered for the third time in four games in Sunday's 8-4 victory that finished off St. Louis' first four-game road sweep since 2004 in Pittsburgh.

"We got some breaks," said Matt Holliday, who added three RBI. "But we've had some days where we haven't got them. So to sweep a team like that was good fur us."

Shaun Marcum will try to slow down Pujols, who went 8-for-18 versus the Marlins with four RBI and eight runs scored. Pujols should be safe at the plate as the Brewers starter said he isn't concerned with getting into another beanball war with the Cardinals.

"We're not going to do anything stupid and have one of our guys suspended," Marcum told his team's website. "We can't afford to do anything dumb. We have the lead. They're chasing us. There's no need to take a chance of somebody on our team getting hurt."

Marcum started last Tuesday's testy affair and did not get a decision in the extra-inning loss. He allowed a season-high six runs on seven hits over six innings, giving up a solo homer to Holliday and a back-breaking three-run shot to opposing starter Jamie Garcia.

The 29-year-old righty was denied a fourth straight winning start and is 10-3 with a 3.58 earned run average in 23 games this season. Last Tuesday marked the second time he has faced the Cardinals in his career after beating them at home on June 12 with seven innings of three-run ball.

Last week's loss to St. Louis is the only one Milwaukee has suffered in its past 12 games. The Brewers have won six of nine over the Cardinals this year as well, but did lost two of three at St. Louis in early May.

Corey Hart did not play in Sunday's 7-3 victory over Houston, which was sparked by Prince Fielder's two-run homer and four runs scored, after suffering a bruised left hand the previous day. He is day-to-day with the injury.

Hart hit one of four homers off Cardinals starter Edwin Jackson in the finale of last week's three-game series, with the other three coming off the bat of Casey McGehee. Jackson clawed his way through seven innings of work to save the bullpen, allowing 10 runs -- eight earned -- on 14 hits in a 10-5 defeat.

"It was (a long day for Edwin). He made some mistakes that they hit," said La Russa.

Jackson was making his second start since coming over in a trade with Toronto and had won his Cards debut on July 29 versus the Cubs with seven innings of one-run ball. Still, the 27-year-old righty had a three-start win streak halted and fell to 8-8 with a 4.11 ERA in 21 combined starts this season.

Jackson is 1-2 with a 5.68 ERA in three career starts against the Brewers.

08/09 10:25:51 ET

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