Lopez off to strong start in Brewers uniform

Lopez off to strong start with Brewers

PITTSBURGH -- It didn't take long for Felipe Lopez to make history.

Lopez became just the second Brewers player to get four hits and reach base five times in his Milwaukee debut. After collecting five hits in his first two starts, Lopez looks to have a strong finish in his first series with the club when the Brewers play the Pirates on Wednesday afternoon at PNC Park.

Lopez did leave Tuesday's game in the eighth inning with right-hamstring tightness. Manager Ken Macha said he won't know Lopez's status until Wednesday, but that it was a little tightening and was precautionary.

Lopez went 4-for-4 with a walk on Monday. The only other player to accomplish the feat in team history is Chuck Carr, who went 4-for-5 with a walk in his first game on April 2, 1996.

With his hit on Tuesday, Lopez has compiled 13 hits in his past eight games.

"We've got a guy that looks like he's going to be our leadoff guy," Macha said. "We're going to have people on base and so we need to get them moved around."

One slot to assist in driving in runs is the No. 5 hole. Mike Cameron, who hit there in all but four games from April 22 through June 14, has been one of five players to see action there since July 8.

The center fielder was back to No. 5 in the order for the first two games of the Pirates series, but that could change Wednesday. Macha may make adjustments because lefty Paul Maholm gets the start. Cameron was hitting .197 against lefties entering Tuesday.

A bright spot is the Brewers' recent success against Maholm. The 27-year-old has lost his last five decisions to Milwaukee, although no defeats have come this season. His most recent victory against the club came on July 26, 2006.

Milwaukee has faced Maholm twice this season, scoring a combined seven runs in 12 2/3 innings.

But success against Maholm has been hard to come by for Lopez. He's hitting just .231 in 26 career at-bats against the left-hander.

On the other hand, Lopez has been a model of consistency this season. Before this year, his career average in any month never topped .300. Yet this season, he's hit better than that in three of the first four months.

"You have your good years and bad," Lopez said. "The older I get, the more I learn. I just stay in a routine. Being in the league for a long time, you pick up tendencies and stuff. You know about pitchers."

With the offense behind him, Lopez said opponents may pitch to him a little bit differently. The Brewers' attack ranks fourth in the National League in RBIs.

"It's nice knowing that when I get on base, there's going to be a lot of weapons behind me," Lopez said.

Pitching matchup
MIL: RHP Jeff Suppan (5-7, 4.43 ERA)
Macha had no complaints about Suppan's start against the Reds on Friday, when he gave up no earned runs in six innings. His defense committed two costly errors, however, which led to three unearned runs in a 4-0 loss. Although Suppan has posted nine quality starts this season, he hasn't earned a victory since June 12, a string of six starts. Suppan will look to end that streak against the Pirates, against whom he is 1-0 this season; he beat Pittsburgh in an 8-5 win on May 5.

PIT: LHP Paul Maholm (6-4, 4.28 ERA)
Maholm had his longest outing of the season in his last start, throwing eight innings and surrendering one unearned run to get a no-decision against the Giants. The lefty has pitched at least six innings in all but six starts this season. Maholm has faced Milwaukee twice this season, coming in consecutive starts, and each ending in a no-decision. His five career losses to the Brewers are the most against one team. Maholm is 2-5 with a 4.38 ERA in 12 career starts against Milwaukee.

Tidbits
Suppan has allowed just one home run in his last nine starts after giving up 12 in his first 10 this season. ...Milwaukee has a .339 on-base percentage against Maholm this season, with 13 hits and six walks in 12 2/3 innings. ...Cameron has made the most starts on the team in the fifth slot, with 48. J.J. Hardy is second with 14.

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Up next
• Thursday: Off-day
• Friday: Brewers (Manny Parra, 4-8, 6.37) vs. Braves (Javier Vazquez, 7-7, 2.86), 7:05 p.m. CT
• Saturday: Brewers (Yovani Gallardo, 8-7, 3.28) vs. Braves (Tommy Hanson, 5-0, 3.00), 6:05 p.m. CT

Wayne Staats is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.