(Photo credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports)
The Milwaukee Brewers will continue their quest for another National League Central title when they visit the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday night.
The Brewers (85-66) have split the first two contests of this four-game series with the Cardinals (67-84). Milwaukee dropped a 1-0 decision in theseries opener on Monday night before prevailing 7-3 on Tuesday to reduce its magic number to win the division to six games.
"A lot of good little things tonight added up to a win," said Brewers manager Craig Counsell, who earned his 700th managerial victory. "Offensively a lot of guys did stuff. Pitching-wise, a lot of guys contributed. Just a good team win."
Right-hander Adrian Houser (6-4, 4.53 ERA) on Wednesday will make his second start for Milwaukee after recovering from a minor elbow injury.
The Brewers have allowed three runs or less in 10 of their last 12 games, and two runs or less eight times during that span.
"It feels like we're all getting healthy and everybody's feeling good," Houser said last Thursday after winning his previous start over the Miami Marlins. "We've had some good starts ... to really refresh the bullpen on this long run. I think everybody is getting to where they want to be."
Houser allowed the two runs on five hits in five innings in that victory over the Marlins. He struck out five and did not walk a batter.
This will be Houser's first start against the Cardinals this season. He is 4-5 with a 3.19 ERA in 14 career games against them, including 11 starts.
The Brewers could see the return of outfielder Christian Yelich for this game. He had a good workout Tuesday while trying to overcome chronic back problems.
"It's certainly tricky," Counsell said. "It's worth playing this day-by-day. Because of how he did (Tuesday), we do have optimism about the next few days."
The Cardinals on Wednesday will turn to left-hander Zack Thompson (5-6, 4.34), who saw his three-game winning streak halted Friday with a 5-4 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies in his most recent start. He allowed four runs on five hits and two walks in five innings.
The Phillies scored all four runs in the first inning, with Nick Castellanos' three-run homer doing most of the damage.
Jason Isringhausen, a special adviser to player development for the Cardinals, was in the dugout for that game, and he gave Thompson some input.
"I give Zack kudos because we changed something between the first and second inning," Isringhausen told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "He went out there, and without a hitch, went out there and did it and gave up one hit in four innings. He's like, 'I wish I could have that first thing back.' I said to him, 'That's a learning experience.' You live and you learn, and now he's got it. Now he's got to keep working and build on it."
This will be Thompson's first career start against the Brewers. He is 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA in four relief appearances against them.
The Cardinals will play without outfielder/first baseman Alec Burleson, who left Tuesday's game after sustaining a broken thumb during a head-first slide into third base.
Burleson joined a mounting casualty list that includes outfielders Tyler O'Neill (foot sprain) and Dylan Carlson (ankle surgery) along with infielders Nolan Gorman (hamstring strain) and Brendan Donovan (elbow surgery).
--Field Level Media