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National League Preview from The Sports Network



Friday, August 24th (All times Eastern)

Milwaukee Brewers (57-66) at Pittsburgh Pirates (67-57), 7:05 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Milwaukee - Mike Fiers (6-6, 2.90) Pittsburgh - Wandy Rodriguez (8-12, 4.00)

(Sports Network) - The Pittsburgh Pirates' recent struggles have them in danger of fading from the playoff race. They'll turn to Wandy Rodriguez on Friday in an effort to right the ship in the opener of a three-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers.

The Pirates were swept in a three-game series by the San Diego Padres, culminating in Wednesday's 4-2 setback. Pittsburgh has now dropped 10 of its last 14 games and has fallen a game behind the St. Louis Cardinals for the second wild card position in the NL.

Pittsburgh is also eight behind the NL Central-leading Cincinnati Reds.

Acquired from the Houston Astros prior to the non-waiver trade deadline, Rodriguez is coming off his first win in a Pirates uniform, though it did not come in a start.

The left-hander threw the final two frames of Sunday's 19-inning victory over the Cardinals, snapping a six-decision slide with his first win since July 7 versus the Brewers.

Rodriguez had allowed 15 runs over his first four starts with the Pirates, going 0-3, and is a combined 8-12 this year with a 4.00 earned run average in 26 games.

In 22 lifetime encounters versus the Brewers, including the one start this year, the 33-year-old Rodriguez is 8-8 with a 3.63 ERA.

He won't be happy to see Milwaukee outfielder Ryan Braun, the NL co-leader in RBI with 85 Braun, the reigning league MVP, is 14-for-36 in his career against Rodriguez with four homers and seven RBI.

Braun has also haunted the Pirates over his career, batting .328 against them with 22 homers and 76 RBI.

Braun drove in a pair of runs and was a single shy of the cycle in Wednesday's 3-2 win over the Chicago Cubs. He hit his NL-leading 34th homer in the victory, Milwaukee's fifth in seven games as it finished off a three-game sweep of Chicago.

Mike Fiers gets the start for the Brewers and has lost two straight starts since winning three in a row, giving up 12 runs over just seven innings.

The rookie right-hander gave up four runs on five hits, two homers and four walks in a 4-3 setback to the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday, hurling five innings.

He is 6-6 with a 2.90 ERA in 15 games (14 starts) this year, though his ERA sat at 1.80 before the consecutive losses.

"(Fiers) really hasn't thrown that many innings, we're going to talk about that," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "You don't necessarily view it as fatigue, but more that he is missing his spots. After those two bad innings he pitched well."

The 27-year-old faced the Pirates for the first time in his career on June 3, taking a loss after allowing four runs over five frames despite eight strikeouts.

08/24 10:40:09 ET