Preview: Brewers vs. Cardinals

MILWAUKEE -- Jimmy Nelson will try for his first victory in over a month when he takes the ball Friday as the Milwaukee Brewers open a three-game series with the St. Louis Cardinals at Miller Park.

Nelson was Milwaukee's best starter for the first two months of the season, going 5-2 with a 2.88 ERA through his first 11 starts. Since then, though, Nelson has scuffled and is 0-4 with a 5.59 ERA in his last six outings, but has shown signs of improvement by only allowing four over his last three outings.

"You always want to have no bad starts, no struggles, no little dips," Counsell said. "But I think we were all confident he was going to get back to a good place."

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Nelson allowed seven hits, two earned runs and two walks to go along with four strikeouts.

"I did a pretty good job of keeping the ball on the ground and just simplifying things between starts," Nelson said. "Kind of letting the movement work. Felt good."

That loss was part of a three-game sweep at the hands of the Cardinals, but Milwaukee rebounded from that setback by taking two of three from the NL East-leading Nationals.

To keep it going, they'll have to do it without infielder Aaron Hill, who was dealt Thursday to Boston for a pair of prospects and cash.

After a slow start to the season, Hill became one of the more consistent producers in Milwaukee's lineup. A .166 hitter in the month of April, Hill battled .323 over his last 56 games for the Brewers, with seven home runs and 22 RBIs.

Hill was responsible for two of the nine hits allowed by Cardinals right-hander Michael Wacha in St. Louis' 9-8 victory over Milwaukee July 3.

Wacha only lasted five innings in that outing but held the Brewers to just a pair of runs while striking out six to extend his winning streak to three games.

He'll try to make it four in a row when he takes the mound Friday, as the Cardinals try to string together back-to-back victories after avoiding a four-game sweep with a 5-1 victory over the Pirates Thursday.

"There were times our team could have easily shut it down and they picked it up," said Adam Wainwright, who threw seven innings of one-run ball Thursday. "We're in that spot right now where Jhonny (Peralta) hurt and when (Brandon) Moss is hurt and when all these great players are hurt, (Matt Carpenter's) hurt, we've got to step up."

Wacha has never lost to the Brewers, posting a 4-0 record and a 4.10 ERA in six career games -- five starts -- including a 1-0 mark and a 9.00 ERA in two appearances at Miller Park.

The Cardinals, meanwhile, have gone 12-0-1 in the last 13 series with the Brewers and are 7-2 against Milwaukee in nine meetings this season.