The Milwaukee Brewers are looking to resume their winning ways on the road while the Pittsburgh Pirates are no doubt eager to be back home.
Starters Yovani Gallardo of Milwaukee and Edinson Volquez of Pittsburgh met in a tight duel last week and will face off again Thursday night in the opener of this four-game set.
Milwaukee (11-4) is 6-0 on the road for the best such start in club history. The Brewers are seeking their first seven-game road win streak since matching the franchise record by winning nine straight July 18-Aug. 2, 2008.
Pittsburgh (7-8) returns home after a 3-6 trip in which it lost five of its last six. The Pirates were shut out for the first time Wednesday, managing a season-low three hits and striking out 12 times against Johnny Cueto in a 4-0 loss to Cincinnati.
"Unfortunately, we weren’t able to make enough adjustments to put anything together, to connect any dots on offense," manager Clint Hurdle said.
It won’t be easy to bounce back against Gallardo (2-0, 0.96 ERA), who was the only Brewers starter not to win last weekend as the club swept a three-game home set from the Pirates. It wasn’t his fault as he yielded two runs in six innings of a 3-2 victory Saturday after entering the contest with 12 2-3 scoreless innings.
Gallardo did not receive a decision because Volquez (0-0, 1.29) gave up two runs – one earned – over 6 1-3 innings in his second 2014 start.
The Pirates right-hander allowed Ryan Braun to get a single in three-at-bats, making the Brewers slugger 11 for 31 against him.
Braun, still bothered by an ailing right thumb, was held out of the starting lineup in Wednesday’s 5-1 home victory over St. Louis. He went 4 for 12 last weekend against the Pirates.
"We’ll try to do what we can to get him better for the next day," manager Ron Roenicke told the Brewers’ official website.
Milwaukee has won 10 of 12 after avoiding a three-game home sweep by the Cardinals. The Brewers lead the majors with a 2.17 ERA, including a major league-best 1.33 mark by their bullpen.
Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen had two hits off Gallardo on Saturday to improve his average to .325 against the right-hander. That effort began McCutchen’s six-game hitting streak in which he is 8 for 20, raising his average from .194 to .268.
Left fielder Jose Tabata left Wednesday’s loss in the fifth inning with what appeared to be a mild concussion after he slammed into the outfield wall while catching a fly ball. Tabata fell, held up his glove to show he’d caught the ball and sat on the warning track for several minutes.
A trainer examined Tabata’s neck, jaw and head before helping him off the field.
"You talk about laying out and making a catch and hitting the wall hard," Hurdle said. "I was just glad he was able to walk off. We’ll see how it feels tomorrow."
Tabata was replaced by the struggling Starling Marte, who is among the major league leaders with 24 strikeouts. Marte is 3 for 14 with seven strikeouts against Gallardo, fanning twice and going 0 for 3 on Saturday.
Gallardo is 4-1 with a 0.59 ERA in his last five starts at Pittsburgh.