It's been awhile since the clubs met, but the visiting Milwaukee Brewers will look to stay perfect against the Pittsburgh Pirates in a four-game series that opens on Thursday.
Milwaukee is 6-0 against the Pirates this year, having swept a pair of two-game series in April.
Things were looking bleak for Milwaukee after a 1-9 start to June. Now the Brewers have won four straight -- including a 5-3 road win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday to complete a two-game series sweep -- and are 11-5 since that June swoon.
Heroes have come from various spots for Milwaukee, which leads the National League Central. One lately is first baseman Rowdy Tellez, who has four homers in his past three games, including two solo shots on Wednesday.
"Just trying to be on time, get the foot down and stay in the big part of the field," Tellez told Bally Sports Wisconsin. "I think when I'm able to be consistent and drive the ball to center field, it's going to help me in all facets of my game."
Pittsburgh needs some help in all facets of its game.
The Pirates headed for the road last week after winning four of five and enjoying the strong play of some prospects making their major league or season debuts.
They return home following a 1-5 road trip to Tampa Bay and Washington that was salvaged with a wild, seesaw 8-7 win on Wednesday against the Nationals. Center fielder Bryan Reynolds socked three homers in the victory.
"We kind of jumped on (Reynolds') shoulders, and it was huge for us," Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said. "We didn't play as clean as we should have -- those are some things we need to work out -- but it's nice to get a win."
In Thursday's series opener, Pittsburgh right-hander JT Brubaker (1-7, 4.14 ERA) is expected to face Milwaukee right-hander Adrian Houser (4-8, 4.50).
Houser will be looking to bounce back from a loss Friday against the Toronto Blue Jays. He allowed five runs and nine hits in six innings, with three strikeouts and a walk.
Even more so, Houser will be looking for a breakout game after going 1-4 and putting up a 6.54 ERA and 1.67 WHIP over his past six starts.
"Very frustrating," Houser said. "I'm not pitching up to my standards. I'm not pitching up to what I need to be pitching at, and I'm not helping this team the way I need to be. I'm very disappointed in myself. I just need to keep working and going at it and get things turned around."
Against Pittsburgh, Houser is 3-3 with a 3.86 ERA in 11 career games, eight of them starts. He has not faced the Pirates this year.
Brubaker has been one of Pittsburgh's better pitchers, despite his disappointing record. He has a 3.54 ERA over his past 13 starts but is 1-6 in those games, though he allowed more than three earned runs just twice in that span.
On Saturday, Brubaker did not get a decision against Tampa Bay after allowing three runs and nine hits in six innings. He struck out six without issuing a walk.
Against the Brewers, Brubaker is 1-2 with a 4.15 ERA in six career starts. That includes a loss on April 19 when he gave up four runs (two earned) on two hits and two walks in five innings. He fanned six.
--Field Level Media