Preview: Brewers vs. Pirates

MILWAUKEE — After a disappointing loss Monday night, the Milwaukee Brewers will try to get back on track Tuesday night when they continue a three-game series with the Pittsburgh Pirates at Miller Park.

Fresh off a dominating sweep of the front-running Chicago Cubs that got them within two games of the National League Central leaders, the Brewers laid an egg in the series opener against Pittsburgh, managing just one hit off rookie left-hander Stephen Brault.

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The loss allowed the Cardinals, who along with the Cubs were idle Monday night, to slip past the Brewers into second place in the division. St. Louis is two games out and Milwaukee sits 2 1/2 games back with 18 to play.

In the race for the second National League wild card, the Colorado Rockies lead the Cardinals by 3 1/2 games and the Rockies by four games.

“We need wins,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “You don’t want to put yourself in a position where you have to sweep or you have to win six in a row or you have to win seven in a row. We’re still chasing, so we have to be better than some of these other teams, that’s for sure.”

Left-hander Brent Suter (2-2, 3.55 ERA) gets the start for Milwaukee on Tuesday, his second since returning from a three-week stint on the disabled list caused by a strained rotator cuff. He threw three scoreless innings against Washington Nationals on Sept. 3, then tossed a shutout relief inning Wednesday at Cincinnati.

Suter, though, isn’t at 100 percent strength, so the Brewers will need to rely on their bullpen to hold off the Pirates.

“We’re not there yet with him from a health perspective and a building-him-up perspective,” Counsell said. “We’re just not there. So it’s going to be (a start) where we’re going to have to rely on our bullpen.”

Suter has made one start against Pittsburgh in 2017, taking no decision after allowing a pair of runs on seven hits over 4 2/3 innings on July 17.

In five career games against the Pirates, including four in relief, he is 0-0 with a 1.80 ERA.

He will need to find a way to stop Andrew McCutchen. The Pirates center field had struggled over the previous month and was batting .194 over his previous 16 games, but he homered Monday for the first time since Aug. 8. He has 20 home runs for his career at Miller Park, where he has reached base in 15 consecutive games.

“I did something right,” McCutchen said of his homer. “It’s a good start, but the numbers don’t lie. This is a hitter’s park. I have good at-bats here.”

Gerrit Cole (11-9, 3.93 ERA) starts Tuesday for Pittsburgh. Cole has a 3.27 ERA over his past 16 starts. He struck out eight his last time out, holding the Cubs to a pair of hits over eight scoreless innings — retiring 14 straight batters at one point — but didn’t take a decision as the Pirates fell 1-0 on Wednesday.

“I could call anything in any given situation and I knew it was going to be a good pitch,” catcher Chris Stewart said after that contest. “He did an outstanding job and deserved the win.”

Cole is 3-3 with a 3.21 ERA in 11 career starts against the Brewers, but he has struggled in Milwaukee, going 1-2 with a 4.71 ERA in five career Miller Park starts.

He has faced Milwaukee four times already this season, going 1-0 with a 2.33 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 27 innings.