National League Preview from The Sports Network
Tuesday, August 30th (All times Eastern)
St. Louis Cardinals (70-64) at Milwaukee Brewers (81-54), 8:10 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: St. Louis - Edwin Jackson (3-2, 3.99) Milwaukee - Shaun Marcum (11-4, 3.38)
(Sports Network) - There is still a month left of baseball to be played, but the Milwaukee Brewers already have a chance to sprint towards the finish line in the race for the National League Central.
Looking to set a club record for the most wins in one month, the Brewers aim to build on their already sizeable lead over the second-place St. Louis Cardinals tonight in the opener of a three-game series at Miller Park.
Milwaukee has posted a 21-5 record in August, matching the 1978 club's record of most wins in a month set during June. The Brewers outstanding run includes four victories in six meetings with the Cardinals in August, part of the reason they lead the division by 10 1/2 games.
An outstanding home record has also contributed. The Brewers are a MLB-best 50-16 at Miller Park this year, winning 21 of their past 24 games as the host. They have captured eight of their last 10 at home over the Cardinals dating back to last year.
"It's an unbelievable streak that they have been on," St. Louis outfielder Jon Jay said on his team's website. "But we can't be worried about what other people are doing. We have to show up and take care of our business. The series with Milwaukee is a big one, but every game for us is now big. We have to stay positive and just take it a game at a time. We can't think ahead."
The Brewers will be looking towards their possible first division title of any kind since winning the AL East back in 1982, when they lost the World Series in seven games to the Cardinals.
Milwaukee picked up its ninth home sweep of the season on Sunday, notching a 3-2 victory over Chicago in the finale of a three-game set. Corey Hart hit a two-run homer to cap an excellent series in which he went 7-for-10 to run his hitting streak to 11 games, while Zack Greinke yielded just one run over 7 2/3 innings.
"The fastball command was pretty good, and so were the changeup and slider," Greinke said. "They just put the ball in play and we made some nice plays."
Milwaukee next turns to Shaun Marcum, who is coming off his first loss since June 29, a defeat at Pittsburgh on Wednesday that halted a nine-start unbeaten streak (4-0).
The right-hander pitched well in a 2-0 defeat, giving up both runs on four hits and three walks over six innings. Still, he fell to 11-4 with a 3.38 earned run average on the season.
"For the most part I thought I made good pitches when I had to," said Marcum. "But they took advantage of the chances when they got them and two runs was enough today."
Marcum's unbeaten run included a pair of starts versus the Cardinals in which he did not factor into the decision. The 29-year-old yielded six runs over six frames of an 8-7 home loss on Aug. 2, then held St. Louis to three runs over another six innings of a 5-3 road win on Aug. 9.
The Cardinals may just need a sweep of this series to keep their fading playoff chances alive and the pressure of this evening's opener will fall on Edwin Jackson.
The right-hander is 3-2 with a 3.99 ERA in six starts with St. Louis since being acquired via trade and won his last outing on Thursday against the Pirates. Jackson allowed four runs over six innings, but only one was earned in an 8-4 triumph as he won for the fifth time in his past seven decisions.
"He did a good job of recognizing what wasn't right and making the adjustment a couple of times," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "That's encouraging."
Jackson is 10-9 with a 3.94 ERA in 25 overall starts this year and will be looking to forget his last start at Miller Park on Aug. 3, when he was drilled for 10 runs -- eight earned -- over seven innings of a loss as he bit the bullet for an overworked bullpen.
The 27-year-old fared batter six days later in a home start versus the Brewers, giving up a pair of earned runs over six innings of a no-decision.
St. Louis secured a series victory on Sunday over the Pirates, taking the finale of a four-game set by a 7-4 margin. Skip Schumaker and Ryan Theriot both drove in two runs and Kyle Lohse allowed two earned runs over five innings to earn his 100th major league victory.
"This is one of our more clutch wins," said La Russa. "We had a chance to win the series and we didn't have any carry over. Guys came out today, had a tough start, hung in there and got a big win."
St. Louis rebounded from a 7-0 defeat a day earlier and had lost seven of nine prior to the series.
08/30 10:41:33 ET