Brewers try to gain some ground on Cardinals

( - The Milwaukee Brewers have played better baseball as of late, but their recently-ended slump may have cost them a chance at a National League Central title.

The Brewers best chance at rallying to win the division comes this week as they begin a three-game series with the first-place St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday night.

Milwaukee has won four of its last five games, but that comes on the heels of a 1-13 span from Aug. 26-Sept. 9. The Brewers led the NL Central by three games on Aug. 17, but is now five games behind the Cardinals.

A more realistic goal should be a wild card spot, which the Brewers trail the Pittsburgh Pirates by 1 1/2 games. Milwaukee's nine-game road trip that begins with this series next stops in Pittsburgh.

"The good thing is we're part of the playoff picture right now," Milwaukee's Aramis Ramirez told his club's website. "From now on, every game counts, and we're in the division. That's the way it should be. That way, you can control your own destiny."

Wily Peralta will get the call for this big opener after finally picking up his 16th win of the season last time out.

Peralta snapped a string of three straight losing starts with a win over Miami on Wednesday, giving up one run over 6 2/3 innings. He won for only the second time since Aug. 12 and is 16-10 on the year with a 3.75 earned run average.

The right-hander had won his first three starts versus the Cardinals this year before taking a loss to them on Sept. 4. He gave up three runs over six frames while striking out seven, giving him a 2.08 ERA in the four meetings.

The Cardinals had lost three in a row before sweeping a three-game series with the Colorado Rockies, giving them a 3 1/2-game edge over the second-place Pirates.

St. Louis has not lost since Lance Lynn's last outing and the right-hander looks to get back in the win column tonight. He had won four straight decisions before a 1-0 loss to Cincinnati on Thursday.

Lynn gave up one run over eight innings, beginning his last frame of work by walking Brandon Phillips. He then yielded a base hit to Jay Bruce and Phillips later scored in the frame on Ramon Santiago's soft liner to center.

"The one batter I walked cost me the game," said Lynn, who has allowed two earned runs or fewer in 11 of his last 13 starts but lost for the first time since July 29.

Lynn is 15-9 with a 2.73 ERA on the year, going 2-0 with a 2.00 ERA in three meetings with Milwaukee. That includes a 5-3 win on Sept. 6 when he was charged with three runs -- one earned -- over six innings.

The Cardinals are 10-6 versus the Brewers this year, splitting six meetings in St. Louis.