Just one win shy of their longest winning streak in nearly 11 years, the Milwaukee Brewers continue to rely on strong pitching as they add to their best start since 1987.
Whether they can keep rolling against the St. Louis Cardinals – who have dominated them in recent years – remains to be seen.
Milwaukee seeks a 10th straight victory Monday night as it hosts St. Louis.
The Brewers (10-2) extended their best start since opening 13-0 in 1987 with Sunday’s 4-1 home win over Pittsburgh, capping their third straight series sweep. They haven’t won 10 in a row since Aug. 19-28, 2003.
The pitching rotation owns a collective 2.22 ERA, including five straight quality starts. Kyle Lohse finished one out shy of a complete game Sunday, limiting the Pirates to four hits and an earned run while striking out nine. Milwaukee ranked 21st in 2013 with a starters’ ERA of 4.20.
"We talked about it and it is a friendly competition to see what the guy in front of you did and do it better," Lohse said.
Looking to top Lohse’s effort Monday will be Matt Garza (0-1, 2.57 ERA), who didn’t record a decision in Wednesday’s 9-4 win at Philadelphia. He threw six innings, giving up three earned runs and eight hits. Garza has limited the Cardinals (7-5) to four earned runs over 23 2-3 innings in his last four starts against them.
However, St. Louis is 29-12 in the series dating to Aug. 11, 2011, and won 14 of 19 meetings last season, including eight of 10 in Milwaukee.
The Cardinals’ bats seemed to show a little more potency in back-to-back wins against the Cubs. After starting off 14 for 80 (.175) with runners in scoring position through the first 10 games, they were 9 for 28 in the last two, with Matt Carpenter driving in three runs in Sunday’s 6-4 victory.
Still, St. Louis hasn’t demonstrated much power with seven homers and a .355 slugging percentage. Matt Adams might be able to provide some pop after hitting .359 with five homers and 12 RBIs in 12 games against the Brewers in 2013.
A number of Milwaukee hitters appear locked in, with Aramis Ramirez hitting safely in 11 of 12 games with 11 RBIs. He’s batting .359 with 11 home runs and 42 RBIs over his last 41 games versus St. Louis, though he’s 2 for 16 against Monday’s starter Lance Lynn (2-0, 6.55). Carlos Gomez also drove in a run for the fifth straight game Sunday, while Jonathan Lucroy had two hits to improve his average to .357.
Lynn won two starts against Cincinnati despite surrendering three runs in the first inning of each. Reds batters were 6 for 11 (.545) against him in the first frame compared to 10 for 38 in all other innings. He gave up five earned runs over six innings of Tuesday’s 7-5 victory.
The Cardinals have staked Lynn with 10 runs of support in 11 innings. He owns a 6.12 career run-support average.
"I think some guys just have a knack of being in the right place when we’ve got a lot of offensive support," manager Mike Matheny said of Lynn, who is 3-2 with a 2.53 ERA in 10 games against Milwaukee, including six starts.
Ryan Braun is 4 for 10 lifetime off Lynn with a home run.
Allen Craig is hitting just .122 this season but is 19 for 45 (.422) with 10 RBIs during a 10-game hitting streak against the Brewers. He’s just 1 for 7 off Garza, however.
Lucroy is batting .382 over his last nine matchups with St. Louis.