After becoming the first team to take a series from the Los Angeles Dodgers in more than 11 weeks, the Milwaukee Brewers will try to cut into their National League Central deficit when they open a two-game series with the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday night at Miller Park.
The Brewers took two of three from the Dodgers to finish their nine-game, three-city road trip with a 5-4 mark. The series with the Cardinals kicks off a stretch during which Milwaukee will face an NL Central opponent in 11 of the next 15 games, with three against the division-leading Chicago Cubs.
Brewers manager Craig Counsell said his team, which most expected to be a non-factor in another rebuilding season, is embracing the challenge ahead of it. Milwaukee (68-63) sits 2 1/2 games behind the first-place Chicago Cubs in the NL Central, and three games back of the Colorado Rockies in the race for the second NL wild card.
"We're excited to be playing games that are big games," Counsell said. "That's great. That's awesome. We're loving that. We're thrilled to be in this spot. It's a great spot and a fun spot to be in."
After the brief two-game set, the teams will meet once more in a three-game series in St. Louis to wrap up the regular season. The Brewers are 7-5 against the Cardinals this season as they look to win a season series with the Redbirds for the first time since 2011.
More Brewers coverage
- Preview: Brewers vs. Cardinals
- Brewers survive, take series with 3-2 win over Dodgers
- Brewers Final Pitch: Knebel, bullpen shine vs. Dodgers
- Photos of the Week: 8/20/17-8/26/17
- Zach Davies dominates as Brewers shut out Dodgers
Standing in the way on Tuesday will be Cardinals right-hander Luke Weaver, who is 1-1 with a 2.95 ERA in three career starts against the Brewers, including an eight-strikeout effort in a 5-4 St. Louis victory earlier this month in Milwaukee.
Weaver (2-1, 2.31 ERA) was dominant his last time out, tossing seven scoreless innings against the San Diego Padres on Wednesday. He struck out 10 and allowed just three hits and a walk while starting in place of injured ace Adam Wainwright.
"We needed that," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "He had everything, and then he was able to raise the eye level, he was able to make real nice fastball pitches late in the count.
"Just an impressive start."
The Cardinals (65-65) begin the series 2 1/2 games behind Milwaukee, though they are still holding onto postseason hopes.
"We have to continue to push and think this is the most important game of the year. We can't be more urgent than that," Matheny said. "If you're playing this one like it is the game, the one that's deciding for our club, and if you truly go about it with your preparation, your concentration and your intensity, there's not another level."
Matt Garza (6-7, 4.67 ERA) gets the nod for Milwaukee, facing the Cardinals for a third time this season. The right-hander is 2-0 with a 4.22 ERA in those outings and 7-5 with a 4.01 ERA in 16 lifetime starts against St. Louis.
Garza has not completed six innings in any of his past seven starts, but he held the San Francisco Giants to a run and five hits in five innings his last time out.