Brew-Crew Still Best

The Milwaukee Brewers missed a chance for their longest winning streak of the season in their last game. Now they'll turn to Claudio Vargas to help them avoid back-to-back defeats for the first time in nearly a month.

The Brewers try to rebound against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night when the NL Central rivals continue their four-game series.

Oddsmakers have made Milwaukee -145 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for todays game, the over/under has been set at 8.5un total runs (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 82% of bets for this game have been placed on Milwaukee -145 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

Milwaukee (18-10), which entered Thursday's game with the best record in baseball, gave up four runs in the seventh inning of a 4-2 loss. Jose Bautista and Ronny Paulino hit consecutive homers for Pittsburgh (13-14) to snap the Brewers four-game winning streak and hand them only their third defeat in 12 games.

J.J. Hardy extended his career-best hitting streak to 14 games with a leadoff double in the sixth and scored on a wild pitch to give the Brewers a 2-0 lead. Despite the loss, Milwaukee has a 4 1/2 game division lead.

"You are not going to win every game, so we're not worried about it,'' Brewers center fielder Bill Hall said. "We just know we're playing well, and that's all that matters now. We're not getting too caught up in standings. We will just let the record speak for itself.''

Milwaukee hasn't lost two straight since a three-game skid April 4-7, and hasn't lost in Vargas' (2-0, 3.68 ERA) four starts - three of which he's allowed one earned run or less.

One of those games was a 7-3 win over Pittsburgh on April 18 when he also gave up five hits over six innings while striking out a career-high 11. Vargas is 3-0 with a 1.80 ERA in six career games versus Pittsburgh, his second-best against any opponent.

The right-hander is coming off a solid showing Sunday, when he pitched five shutout innings and scattered four hits in a 3-1 win over Houston. Despite a season-high five walks, Vargas also worked out of bases-loaded jams in three consecutive innings and has retired the last eight batters he's faced with the bases loaded.

"Sometimes, you focus a little bit more when we get into that situation,'' Vargas said. "That's the place where you have to make the pitches and get out of it for the club.''

Pittsburgh left fielder Jason Bay is 5-for-9 with two homers and a double during his career against Vargas. Bay had an RBI double Thursday to improve to 13-for-26 with four homers, two triples and two doubles in his last seven games at Miller Park.

Paul Maholm (1-3, 5.28) will try to bounce back from his worst start of the season for Pirates. The left-hander allowed six runs and seven hits over four innings - his shortest outing in 2007 - in a 9-5 defeat to Cincinnati on Sunday.

"It was one of those things where the game started going too fast and I didn't slow it down,'' said Maholm, who was coming off a three-hit shutout of Houston in his previous start. "My breaking ball wasn't good and when I got behind, I had to throw fastballs and that's a disaster plan.''

Maholm is 2-1 with a 3.54 ERA in four career starts versus Milwaukee, but lost when he faced Vargas on April 18 after giving up five runs and 10 hits over six innings.

Hall is 7-for-12 with two homers and a double during his career versus Maholm.

by: Dave Michaels - thespread.com – Email Us

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