The Milwaukee Brewers are off to a rough start to their 10- game road swing, but they'll look to turn things around on Monday when they visit PNC Park to open a four-game series with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Brewers opened the three-city, 10-day NL Central trip by suffering a three-game sweep in Cincinnati over the weekend. They have dropped four in a row overall and nine of their last 10. In fact, Milwaukee has lost each of its last eight meetings against division opponents.
"We need to play well against those teams knowing that's who we're going to have to beat if we're going to win this division," manager Ron Roenicke said.
On Sunday, the Brewers offense was blanked until the eighth inning and wound up falling, 5-1. Starter Wily Peralta allowed four runs in six innings to take the loss.
Meanwhile, the Pirates claimed a three-game weekend sweep over the Mets in New York and entered Monday 2 1/2 games behind division leader St. Louis. Pedro Alvarez drove in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning of Sunday's 3-2 victory. Starter Jeanmar Gomez pitched five innings and allowed only one run on two hits in five innings.
Taking the hill for the Brewers Monday is Marco Estrada, who owns a 6.05 ERA through seven starts. Roenicke pushed Estrada back a couple of days after the right-hander walked five Cardinals batters on May 5. Estrada was encouraged by a recent bullpen session to address those command issues.
"I feel a million times better," Estrada said. "I know those things are going to happen, but I didn't like how the mental aspect of it was lost. Normally, I feel like I have pretty good control over that. I didn't have it that day, but I've worked on it. Mentally, right now, I'm pretty strong."
Pittsburgh starter A.J. Burnett has held the opposition to three earned runs or less in every start this season. In his last outing against the Mariners, Burnett yielded only two runs in seven innings, striking out nine. His 66 strikeouts are tops in the National League.
Burnett gets the call Monday for the Buccos.
"(A.J.) was a grown man out there doing some good work," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said following Wednesday's start against Seattle.
The Brewers won two of three at home against the Pirates earlier this season and are 13-5 in the past 18 meetings between the Central foes.