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W:Z.Greinke(11-4) L:P.Maholm(6-13)
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National League Preview from The Sports Network



Friday, August 12th (All times Eastern)

Pittsburgh Pirates (56-60) at Milwaukee Brewers (67-51), 8:10 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Pittsburgh - Paul Maholm (6-12, 3.54) Milwaukee - Zack Greinke (10-4, 4.21)

(Sports Network) - The Pittsburgh Pirates can begin one last improbable charge toward the top of the National League's Central Division tonight at Miller Park, as they open a three-game series with the front-running Milwaukee Brewers.

The Pirates were among the league's biggest success stories for the season's first half, getting a share of the division for a brief spell and staying in contention until a 10-game losing streak in late July and early August.

The dip pushed them below .500 for the season and to the fringes of contention in the division, where they now trail the Brewers by 10 games after winning two of three in San Francisco earlier in the week.

Milwaukee stretched its lead to four games over second-place St. Louis by taking two of three in a series that ended Thursday, when Chris Carpenter pitched eight strong innings and Albert Pujols went 4-for-4 with a homer and two RBI as the Cardinals won, 5-2, to avoid a sweep.

Mark Kotsay and Prince Fielder both had RBI hits for the Brewers, who lost for just the second time in their last 15 games. They grounded into four double plays.

Yovani Gallardo (13-8) was saddled with the loss after allowing seven hits and five runs -- four earned -- over five frames.

On Wednesday in San Francisco, Matt Diaz finished 2-for-4 with two RBI as Pittsburgh plundered San Francisco, 9-2.

Ryan Ludwick added three hits, an RBI and two runs scored, while Andrew McCutchen hit a two-run homer, walked three times and crossed the plate on four occasions for the Pirates.

Jeff Karstens (9-6) worked six innings, allowing eight hits and two runs while fanning nine for the win.

Milwaukee sends right-hander Zack Greinke to the mound, where he'll face the Pirates for the third time in his career.

The 27-year-old Floridian has won each of the first two meetings while allowing a combined seven runs on 13 hits in 11 1/3 innings.

Lately, Greinke has won three straight outings, defeating the Chicago Cubs, St. Louis and Houston while allowing 14 hits and three runs in 19 2/3 innings.

He's been perfect at home in his first season with the Brewers, winning all seven decisions in nine starts while posting a 3.49 earned run average.

Paul Maholm goes for the Pirates in search of his first win since July 10.

The Mississippi native was 6-9 on the season after a 9-1 defeat of the Cubs that night, but has since dropped three decisions in five starts as his ERA has ballooned from 2.96 to 3.54.

Maholm, a lefty, gave up 10 hits and seven runs in 6 2/3 innings of his last outing, a 13-2 loss to San Diego on Aug. 6.

Maholm is 3-7 in 18 career starts against Milwaukee.

Milwaukee has won all five meetings with Pittsburgh this season and is 18-5 in this series since the start of the 2010 campaign.

08/12 11:01:21 ET

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