Brewers-Pirates Preview

Talking about their fall from the top of the NL Central to their current predicament won't do the Milwaukee Brewers any good.

No matter the negativity surrounding the club after their collapse, the Brewers still have a chance to come out of this crucial three-game series in Pittsburgh one game closer to the Pirates in the playoff race by taking Sunday's finale.

Milwaukee (80-75) held the top spot in the Central from April 4-Aug. 31, but its 9-20 mark since Aug. 20 has left it 3 1/2 games behind Pittsburgh (83-71) for the league's second wild card.

The Brewers lost their third straight with Friday's 4-2 defeat in the series opener, but Logan Schafer's sacrifice fly in the ninth Saturday gave them a 1-0 victory and more hope that they can catch the Pirates with just seven to play.

Following this contest, Milwaukee finishes its season with three apiece against Cincinnati and the Chicago Cubs - the bottom two teams in the division.

"We knew what we had to do and we know how things have been going," said manager Ron Roenicke, whose club won for only the second time in its last 13 road contests.

The Pirates are still feeling confident about their playoff chances despite having their five-game winning streak come to an end. The last time they were shut out - a 1-0 loss to St. Louis on Sept. 3 - they proceeded to win 12 of 14.

"The pitchers kept putting up zeros," manager Clint Hurdle said. "We had some opportunities and couldn't push a run across."

The heat of a tight race showed as well when Brewers starter Matt Garza was ejected in the fifth inning after hitting reigning NL MVP Andrew McCutchen for the second time. The ejection was automatic after both benches were warned when Edinson Volquez pitched inside to Ryan Braun in retaliation to the first plunking.

"If people think I hit McCutchen on purpose in a game like this, then you're just an idiot," Garza said.

Vance Worley will be on the mound in this contest looking to help Pittsburgh extend its lead, though he hasn't been particularly sharp lately.

Worley (7-4, 3.18 ERA) allowed three runs - two earned - and walked four in 4 2-3 innings of Pittsburgh's 5-3 win over the Cubs on Sept. 5 before giving up three runs in five innings of a 6-3 win over Philadelphia on Sept. 10.

The right-hander is 2-3 with a 4.81 ERA over his last six outings, including allowing four runs and a season-worst 12 hits in 6 1-3 innings of a 4-3 loss to Milwaukee on Aug. 24.

Pittsburgh decided to skip his next start, but he'll get the call in this outing in place of Charlie Morton, who is dealing with a sports hernia on his right side.

Worley is 0-3 with a 5.48 ERA in four career starts against the Brewers, who counter with Wily Peralta as he seeks another solid outing in his biggest start of the season.

Peralta (16-10, 3.70) is 1-1 with a 2.75 ERA over his last three starts after allowing two runs in seven innings of Milwaukee's 3-2, 12-inning win over St. Louis on Tuesday.

Things didn't go as well for him the last time he faced the Pirates, though, as he allowed eight runs and a season-worst three homers in five innings of a 10-2 loss Aug. 23.

The right-hander had gone 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in his first three career starts against Pittsburgh, including two previously this season.

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