Wacha to face just-activated Garza as Cardinals seek series win at Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE -- Matt Garza is expected to return from the disabled list Thursday and take the mound for the Milwaukee Brewers against the St. Louis Cardinals in the rubber match of a three-game series.

Garza, 4-5 with a 3.83 ERA in 15 starts this season, landed on the DL for the second time this year June 26 due to a strained right calf. He missed the first three weeks of the season with a right groin strain.

"I thought it was just a cramp, and it just hasn't felt the same," Garza said of the latest injury. "It's not painful to pitch, but making a pitch with authority, or reacting afterward, I don't think I would be able to perform at the level they need me to.

"It was more for not trying to injure it any further. We tried to wait as long as possible and just couldn't do it. I want to give my team the best chance to put ourselves in a position to win.

"It (stinks), but what are you going to do? It's not like I was fooling around. I was getting my work in, and I guess everything was right for something wrong to happen."

Garza beat St. Louis on June 14 despite allowing four runs over five innings. In 15 career starts against the Cardinals, he is 6-5 with a 4.18 ERA.

Michael Wacha gets the nod for St. Louis, looking to build on a dominant effort his last time out. He held Arizona scoreless for six innings and allowed three hits in a 1-0 win Friday. He didn't allow an earned run in three of his past five starts, and he owns a 1.86 ERA over his past six turns.

"He was fantastic," manager Mike Matheny said after Wacha's last outing.

Wacha, 26, is 8-4 with a 3.71 ERA this season but has a 7.20 ERA without a decision in two outings against Milwaukee in 2017. He has fared well against his Brewers during his career, though, going 4-0 with a 4.81 ERA in nine games (eight starts).

Facing Wacha could be a boost for Eric Sogard, who is 2-for-3 against Wacha but is trying to snap out of his first extended slump of the season.

Sogard went 0-for-3 on Wednesday against the Cardinals and is 2-for-27 since returning from the disabled list July 22.

"I think it's taken me a little longer to get my rhythm back, for sure," said Sogard, who batted .331 with a .438 on-base percentage in 43 games before sustaining an ankle injury. "That time off affected me more than I thought it was going to. I'm just kind of getting my rhythm and my timing down now."

Sogard got off to such a good start that he supplanted slumping Jonathan Villar as the regular second baseman. However, after Sogard came back, manager Craig Counsell said the two would go back to sharing time at the position with utilityman Hernan Perez seeing action there as well.

"When you look at what Eric did before the injury, it's pretty amazing," Counsell said Wednesday. "I think to continue at that pace, I don't know if any of us were expecting that or if he was expecting that.

"He's gotten off to a slow start since he's come back. The purpose of putting him in there today is to try to get him going. It's to try to get him some consistent at-bats."

The Brewers, who haven't taken a season series from St. Louis since 2010, hold a 7-6 edge against the Cardinals this year. Milwaukee won the series opener 3-2 on Monday, but St. Louis earned a 5-4 victory Tuesday.