Crew hopes to change history on key trip

Crew hopes to change history on key trip

MILWAUKEE -- If the Brewers are to have any success during their crucial nine-game road trip, they'll have to buck recent history.

The stretch begins on the West Coast with series in San Diego and Los Angeles before moving to Houston. It would be a tough trip even if the Brewers weren't slumping; they are coming off their first back-to-back wins in precisely one month, but remain 9-16 in July with one game to go.

"It means going home for me," said catcher Jason Kendall, who lives in Santa Monica, Calif. "But it's business and I have a job to do. I'm not out there to go to the beach. This is a huge trip for us. Huge. Every trip, every game, is big for us because we need to jump-start something."

The Brewers took two of three games from the Padres last year at PETCO Park but are 5-10 there since the stadium opened in 2004 and 13-24 all-time in San Diego. They haven't fared any better at Dodger Stadium, where they are 11-26.

Then Houston's Minute Maid Park awaits, and the Brewers have actually done well there this season, going 4-2 in a couple of trips. Even with those four wins, though, Milwaukee is 27-48 at Minute Maid and 31-60 all-time in Houston.

Braden Looper will start the opener of the trip on Friday. He's 4-3 with a 3.88 ERA lifetime against the Padres and will try to bounce back after his personal four-game winning streak was snapped last week by the Braves.

"I honestly don't know what my record is [out west]," Looper said. "It always comes down to going out there and pitching the way you need to pitch. Every game is important for us right now."

Especially considering the competition. The Brewers had to rally to win the final two games to forge a four-game series split with the Nationals, owners of the worst record in the National League. Now it's on to San Diego, where the Padres own the league's second-lowest win total.

Kendall knows the Padres won't just roll over.

"Records are records," he said, "but if you think about it, there are only 700-some Major League players in the world. Anybody can have a career night at any time. Anybody can pitch a gem."

Pitching matchup
MIL: RHP Braden Looper (9-5, 4.79 ERA)
Coming off seven scoreless innings on July 21 at Pittsburgh, Looper could only avoid damage for so long against the Braves on Sunday at Miller Park. He surrendered a run in the first inning, then stranded a runner at third base in the fourth and again in the fifth before Atlanta touched him for four runs in the sixth. Five consecutive hitters reached safely with one out, including Matt Diaz, who knocked an RBI single, and Casey Kotchman, who delivered the decisive blow with a three-run home run for a 5-0 lead. Even with the loss, the Brewers are still a solid 13-8 when Looper pitches, including wins in five of his last seven starts.

SD: RHP Chad Gaudin (4-9, 4.57 ERA)
Gaudin is coming off a no-decision on Sunday against the Nationals in a game during which he carried a shutout into the seventh inning before Josh Willingham tied it with a solo home run. Until that point, Gaudin had gone five starts and 37 consecutive innings without allowing a home run. Gaudin got a lot of bad swings on his slider, occasionally on pitches out of the strike zone. He struck out four and allowed five hits in his seven innings against Washington.

Tidbits
Triple-A Nashville catcher Angel Salome, considered Milwaukee's top catching prospect, has been absent from the box scores of late. He missed his fourth straight start on Wednesday, marking the eighth time in 11 Sounds games that Salome didn't play. Asked via e-mail about Salome's status, assistant general manager Gord Ash responded that the team was "just giving him a few days. According to the trainer, he will be fine." A followup e-mail inquiring about Salome's particular ailment went unanswered. Ash has been very busy with GM Doug Melvin searching for pitching help ahead of Friday's non-waiver Trade Deadline. ... Shortstop J.J. Hardy, a subject of trade rumors, didn't start on Thursday, but that came as no surprise because manager Ken Macha had been forecasting a day off for Hardy all week. ... Second baseman Rickie Weeks, who rejoined the team during the just-completed homestand, will remain in Milwaukee to continue rehabilitating his left wrist injury. Weeks underwent surgery in May, and Melvin still expects him to miss the rest of the season. ... The Brewers welcomed the two-millionth fan to Miller Park in the 53rd home game of 2009. Last year, on the way to setting a franchise attendance mark, the team didn't break the two million mark until the 55th home date. ... The Brewers optioned Bill Hall to Triple-A Nashville and placed starter Jeff Suppan on the 15-day disabled list following Thursday's win over Washington but made only one corresponding roster move, recalling infielder Hernan Iribarren from Nashville to replace Hall. Suppan's replacement will have to be named on Friday.

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

On television
• FS Wisconsin-HD

On radio
• WTMJ 620

Up next
• Saturday: Brewers (TBA) at Padres (Edward Mujica, 2-4, 3.29), 9:05 p.m. CT
• Sunday: Brewers (Carlos Villanueva, 2-8, 6.61) at Padres (Kevin Correia, 7-8, 4.75), 3:05 p.m. CT
• Monday: Brewers (Manny Parra, 5-8, 6.50) at Dodgers (Clayton Kershaw, 8-5, 2.76), 9:10 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.