Pirates-Brewers preview

MILWAUKEE -- The Pittsburgh Pirates' Jameson Taillon may have a few extra thoughts running through his head when he faces Milwaukee's Hernan Perez on Saturday night.

Just 11 days earlier in Pittsburgh, Perez lined a pitch off the back of Taillon's head in the second inning. Fortunately, Taillon wasn't seriously injured. Even more remarkable, he remained in that game to pitch six strong innings, allowing just five hits and one earned run.

"To be honest, I was waiting for it to hurt when I was down," Taillon told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "I really felt good the whole way through."

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Taillon knew he was extremely fortunate, saying on Twitter that night: "Not exactly how I imagined today going when I got out of bed. But going to bed feeling extremely lucky."

Taillon will make his eighth big-league start Saturday when he faces the Milwaukee Brewers.

The No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 draft, Taillon took six full years to reach the majors. He'll turn 26 in November. He's 2-1 with a 3.60 ERA in seven starts with the Pirates this season.

Taillon showed no ill effects from the close call and made his next start last Sunday against Philadelphia. He went six innings and allowed eight hits and four runs (3 earned) but did not get a decision in a 5-4 victory.

The Pirates will be looking to avenge a 3-1 loss to the Brewers on Friday night.

Milwaukee counters with right-hander Chase Anderson, who snapped a four-game losing streak in his last outing. Milwaukee is just 7-12 in games started by Anderson.

The Brewers hope left fielder Ryan Braun will return to the lineup.

Braun has missed the last two games with stiffness in his right side.

"It is day-to-day," Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said before Friday's game. "He's improved today. I'm hoping he's back in there tomorrow. It is improving for sure and not deemed serious."

Braun is hitting a team-leading .321 with 14 homers and 46 RBIs.

"Pretty good," Braun said when asked how he felt before Friday's game. "A little bit better than yesterday. Just a little bit tight; waiting for it to loosen up.

"Obviously the danger becomes when it's really tight it won't loosen up. So we're just trying to avoid hurting it badly. I'll get some treatment on it today and hopefully get back out there tomorrow."

Braun has dealt with similar problems in the past.

"It's not fun, and obviously that's what we're trying to avoid," he said. "Whenever it gets to the point where it gets tight and it won't loosen up...I felt it for a few days but yesterday it just wouldn't loosen up so obviously it made sense to not take the chance to do something worse to it."

At 52-49, the Pirates are three games out of the National League's second wild-card position. They have earned a wild-card playoff berth in each of the previous three seasons after a 20-year playoff drought.

The Pirates appear likely to be without catcher Francisco Cervelli, who took a pitch off his right ankle Friday night behind the plate. Cervelli had just returned 10 days ago from a five-week stint on the disabled list because of a broken bone in his left hand.

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle could only term the injury "right-foot discomfort" after the game, although Cervelli appeared to be in significant pain.