No love lost when Brewers visit Pirates

No love lost when Brewers visit Pirates

MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers' visit to Pittsburgh will be short, and it might not be very sweet.

There was no love lost between the two teams during a three-game Brewers sweep at Miller Park last week, and each club's ace will be on the mound Monday for the opener of a quick two-game series at PNC Park. For the Brewers, it's Yovani Gallardo, who finished the sweep on Wednesday by becoming the first pitcher since 2002 to homer in his own 1-0 win.

The series in Milwaukee featured some ill will from both sides. Brewers slugger Ryan Braun wasn't happy about getting plunked by a pitch between the shoulder blades in the series opener. He voiced his displeasure after that game and again before Game 2, prompting Pirates right-hander Ian Snell to snap back after he struck out Braun three times in Game 3.

"You shouldn't say stuff like that," Snell said. "You should just keep your mouth shut because it might come back to bite you in the butt."

Snell will start again against the Brewers on Tuesday night. Paul Maholm is slated to start Monday's opener against Gallardo.

It remains to be seen whether either pitcher faces Braun, who sat out Saturday and Sunday because of tightness in his upper back, which Braun believes is related to the lower back/rib cage injury that dogged him in Spring Training. He was asked whether he was particularly anxious to get back in time to face the Pirates again.

"I want to play every day," Braun said Sunday morning. "I don't need any added motivation."

PNC Park had been a house of horrors for the Brewers before last season. They went 20-42 there from 2001-2007 while winning only five of 21 series. That stretch included 13 series losses and three splits.

But in 2008, Milwaukee took five of six games in Pittsburgh including a three-game sweep at the end of August capped by CC Sabathia's near no-hitter. The Brewers swept another series from the Pirates during the final week of the regular season, and with three more in Milwaukee to start 2009, they have beaten Pittsburgh in 15 straight games. It's the longest active winning streak in the Majors for one team over another, and the longest since Oakland beat Seattle in 15 straight games in 2006.

Including their sweep of the Pirates, the Brewers went 5-2 on their just-completed homestand.

"Great homestand, you have to highlight that," Macha said before leaving for Pittsburgh. "We're heading in the right direction."

Pitching matchup
MIL: RHP Yovani Gallardo (3-1, 2.86 ERA)
Gallardo is on a roll. He pitched seven brilliant innings against the Pirates on Wednesday and hit a solo home run for a 1-0 win, and has allowed only two runs in 22 innings over his last three starts. Both of his home runs this season have won games, including a three-run shot off Randy Johnson on April 8 for a 4-2 Brewers win. But he did throw 116 pitches against the Pirates after working a complete game in Houston in his previous start, which caused at least mild concern for manager Ken Macha. Since Gallardo missed most of last season with a serious knee injury, the Brewers are worried about wearing him out early this year.

PIT: LHP Paul Maholm (3-0, 3.09 ERA)
Maholm will have another shot at the Brewers after suffering his shortest outing of the season in a no-decision in Milwaukee on Tuesday. The left-hander lasted just 5 1/3 innings and worked in and out of jams the entire night. Maholm gave up seven hits and allowed five earned runs while stranding the bases loaded on two occasions. The Bucs ace benefited from his defense, which turned two double plays in each of the first two innings. Maholm struggled with his location and rarely topped 90 mph with his fastball.

Tidbits
Prince Fielder ended the Brewers' three-game home run drought and his own seven-game dry spell with a solo blast on Sunday, then walked in his next three plate appearances. His average has hovered in the low .200s all season, but Macha didn't sound worried. "He has a history as a slow starter," the manager said. "And he's going to be pitched tough." ... Macha wasn't sure if he would continue to bat Rickie Weeks in the three-hole should Braun miss more time. Weeks hit there Sunday for the first time in nearly four years. "We're hoping Braun is back," the manager said. ... Third baseman Bill Hall has a nine-game hitting streak and has a hit in 20 of his 22 games this year. ... Mike Cameron hit a solo home run on Sunday for his 1,500th career hit. ... Brewers pitchers have 15 quality starts this season (six or more innings, three or fewer earned runs). That's tied with Pittsburgh for most in the Majors.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• FS Wisconsin

On radio
• WTMJ 620

Up next
• Tuesday: Brewers (Jeff Suppan, 1-2, 5.88) at Pirates (Ian Snell, 1-3, 3.72), 6:05 p.m. CT
• Wednesday: Brewers (Manny Parra, 0-4, 5.33) at Reds (Bronson Arroyo, 4-1, 4.91), 6:10 p.m. CT
• Thursday: Brewers (Braden Looper, 2-1, 3.10) at Reds (Micah Owings, 1-3, 4.84), 6:10 p.m. CT

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.