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Brewers, Cardinals clash with NL Central lead on the line

Sportsnaut
Jun 9, 2022; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA;  Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher Corbin Burnes (39) delivers a pitch against the Philadelphia Phillies in the first inning at American Family Field. Mandatory Credit: Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports

The last time Corbin Burnes faced St. Louis, the Brewers right-hander tossed seven scoreless innings to keep front-running Milwaukee comfortably ahead of the division-rival Cardinals.

Now, when the Cardinals visit Milwaukee on Monday to open a four-game series, the Brewers find themselves deadlocked with St. Louis atop the National League Central division.

Burnes (4-4, 2.52 ERA), the reigning Cy Young winner, gets the nod for Milwaukee, while right-hander Miles Mikolas (5-4, 2.62) starts for St. Louis in a rematch of the May 29 starters.

Milwaukee is coming off a 6-3 victory at Cincinnati on Sunday for a three-game sweep to conclude a nine-game road trip at 5-4. The Brewers got home runs from Victor Caratini and Hunter Renfroe to back Adrian Houser, who allowed three runs in six innings. Houser was 0-5 with a 4.79 ERA over his previous seven starts.

“We had a tough start to this trip and finished it really strong. I like that,” Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said. “We’re banged up still, especially on the pitching staff. It looks like we’ve got some guys coming back, so that’s good.”

St. Louis, which had surged 2 1/2 games in front of Milwaukee last week, lost at Boston 6-4 on Sunday to drop back into a tie for the division lead. The Cardinals and Brewers have split eight games this season.

In his most recent outing against the Cardinals, Burnes allowed just two hits in his seven-inning stint, striking out 11 in an 8-0 win at St. Louis that put the Brewers 12 games over .500 and 3 1/2 games in front of the Cards.

Since then, Burnes is 1-2 with a 5.14 ERA in three starts, giving up 10 runs (eight earned) on 16 hits in 14 innings. He got the win in his most recent start, giving up two runs in six innings in a 10-2 win over the Mets on Wednesday.

Burnes is 3-3 with a 3.33 ERA in 12 career games, including nine starts, against St. Louis.

Mikolas was within one out of a no-hitter in his start last Tuesday against Pittsburgh before allowing a two-out ground-rule double that just eluded center fielder Harrison Bader. Mikolas threw a career-high 129 pitches in 8 2/3 innings in the Cardinals’ 9-1 victory.

“You only get so many opportunities to do what he was really close doing today with throwing that no-hitter. Everybody in the dugout wanted it real bad for him,” St. Louis manager Oliver Marmol said after that game. “He pitched really well, man. Did a really nice job. If Bader doesn’t catch that ball, there’s no one in this league that could catch it.”

Mikolas is 6-3 with a 4.16 ERA in 11 career games against the Brewers, including 10 starts, but is 5-1 at Milwaukee.

Mikolas took the loss in the earlier matchup with Burnes, allowing six runs on nine hits in 5 2/3 innings, including a pair of homers.

St. Louis is scheduled to start four right-handers — Mikolas, Jack Flaherty, Adam Wainwright and Dakota Hudson — against the Brewers, who are 27-17 vs. righties, but 11-13 against left-handers.

Milwaukee is 22-11 against Central Division rivals, but 16-19 outside the division.

It will be Milwaukee’s first home series without veteran center fielder Lorenzo Cain, who was designated for assignment on Saturday. The 36-year-old Cain, signed as a free agent prior to the 2018 season, was hitting .179 with one homer and nine RBIs in 145 at-bats this season.

–Field Level Media