Brewers-Cardinals Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated August 03, 2012
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The St. Louis Cardinals will spent most of the next three weeks at home, which could help them get back into the thick of the NL playoff chase. The Cardinals open a three-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday night, going for their fourth straight victory at Busch Stadium. St. Louis begins a seven-game homestand after a 3-3 road trip. The Cardinals, who have won nine of 13 overall, lost 8-2 to Colorado on Thursday, failing to complete a three-game sweep. Eight games out of first place in the NL Central and four games back of Atlanta for the second wild-card spot, St. Louis (56-49) could make up ground while playing 16 of its next 19 at Busch Stadium, where it went 12-3 in July to improve to 29-21 this season. Matt Holliday is hitting .341 at home this year and .464 with seven homers and 20 RBIs in his last 19 games there. He had three homers and nine RBIs in the first two games against the Rockies before going 0 for 3 on Thursday. The Cardinals could be without Lance Berkman after he re-injured his surgically repaired right knee Thursday. In 15 games since returning, he's hitting .182 with one homer and three RBIs. "I'll have the doc take a look at it and see what he thinks," he said. "Life of a ballplayer. Some days it feels OK. Some days it doesn't." St. Louis will try to provide some offense for Friday's starter Joe Kelly, who has performed admirably since being called up in June but hasn't received much run support. Kelly (1-4, 2.96 ERA) hasn't allowed more than three runs in any of his nine starts while filling in for the injured Jaime Garcia. The right-hander allowed three runs and five hits while striking out a season-high six over 6 1-3 innings of a 3-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Saturday. "That's all I can ask for. Wins and losses are out of my control," Kelly said. St. Louis has lost five of Kelly's last six starts. He's 0-4 in that stretch despite posting six consecutive quality starts, including a 3-2 loss at Milwaukee on July 17 in which he gave up three runs - two earned - in six innings. He'll face a Brewers team that may have some renewed confidence after taking advantage of the majors' worst club this week. Milwaukee (48-56) is coming off a three-game sweep of Houston, outscoring the Astros 31-12. The Brewers won 13-4 on Wednesday as Ryan Braun hit his NL-leading 29th homer and Rickie Weeks, Jonathan Lucroy and Cesar Izturis also went deep. The defending NL Central champions are 15 1/2 games behind first-place Cincinnati and 11 1/2 out in the wild-card race. "There's no reason to give up," Braun said. "Why are you going to give up, ever? I think until you're mathematically eliminated, you're going to continue to believe you have a chance." The Brewers will hand the ball to Randy Wolf (3-7, 5.45), who gave up four runs on three homers in seven innings of a 4-1 loss to Washington on Saturday. The left-hander, who is 1-2 with a 6.35 ERA in nine appearances - eight starts - on the road, has split two outings against the Cardinals this year, allowing five runs over 11 2-3 innings. St. Louis has a 5-4 edge in the season series, winning two of three at home in April.
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