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The Pittsburgh Pirates resume their chase for the final National League wild-card playoff spot Friday when they begin a three-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers, who return home after completing a 5-2 road trip. Pittsburgh trails St. Louis by one half-game in the race for the second wild card berth after recording its first season series win over the Cardinals since 2008 with consecutive shutouts. Pedro Alvarez has powered the Pirates’ offense by reaching safely in 12 of his past 13 games, going 19-for-47 with 10 walks and raising his average to .249. His 26 home runs lead all National League third basemen.
The Brewers remain far removed from the playoff race at 17 games behind first-place Cincinnati after dropping a 12-11 decision to the Chicago Cubs on Thursday. Catcher Jonathan Lucroy drove in seven runs in a game for the second time this season on Thursday, and he was 8-for-20 (.400) during the Brewers’ seven-game road trip. Pittsburgh’s Neil Walker has missed three straight games because of tightness in his lower back, but he’s expected to avoid the disabled list. Walker, whose 69 RBIs leads all major league second basemen, is listed as day-to-day and could return during the Milwaukee series.
Pirates Brewers Betting
When: 8:10 PM ET, Friday, August 31, 2012
Where: Miller Park, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
TV: 8:10 p.m. ET, ROOT (Pittsburgh), FS Wisconsin (Milwaukee)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Pirates RH Jeff Karstens (5-3, 3.47 ERA) vs. Brewers RH Mark Rogers (2-1, 4.28)
Karstens has won five of his last six decisions, including last Saturday against the Brewers when he tossed seven scoreless innings. He’s pitched seven innings in each of his last three starts, and he’s 1-5 with a 3.41 ERA in 12 career games (nine starts) against Milwaukee. Karstens is 4-0 in six starts against teams from the NL Central this season.
Rogers is facing Pittsburgh for the second time in a week after working five scoreless innings last Sunday in the Brewers’ 7-0 win. Milwaukee is 2-4 in Rogers’ six starts since he was recalled from Triple-A Nashville on July 28. He has a 36-to-12 strikeout-to-walk ratio covering 33 2/3 innings since his promotion.
1. The Pirates are 3-3 in a stretch that has them scheduled to play 28 consecutive games against teams from the NL Central.
2. The Brewers are 38-28 at home and 9-1-2 over their last 12 home series.
3. Pittsburgh has promoted RHP Gerrit Cole to Triple-A Indianapolis, and it’s possible the 2011 No. 1 overall pick could be called up in September.