|Cardinals chase sweep of Brewers|
Head-to-head success against the Milwaukee Brewers is helping the St. Louis Cardinals in their playoff push.
The National League Central-leading Cardinals will try to complete a three-game sweep of the visiting Brewers on Wednesday at Busch Stadium.
Thanks in part to losses in their past six meetings with the Cardinals, the third-place Brewers have fallen four games back in the division race. The second-place Chicago Cubs are a half-game behind the Cardinals.
Overall, the Cardinals have won nine of their past 11 games while the Brewers have lost six of their past eight.
The Cardinals got an offensive lift Tuesday night from center fielder Harrison Bader, who returned from Triple-A Memphis while trading places with outfielder Randy Arozarena. Bader hit a triple, drew three walks, scored twice and drove in a run as the Cardinals won 9-4.
Bader, the Cardinals' Opening Day center fielder, returned to the minors last month to rebuild his confidence after his batting average fell to .195.
He hit .317 with seven homers and 15 RBIs in 16 games for Memphis. Bader heated up in his last nine games there, going 14-for-35 (.400) with six walks, 18 runs and 14 RBIs.
"I didn't go there thinking I'd be back in two weeks, three weeks, a month," Bader said. "That wasn't my approach to the whole situation. It was just a matter of when my next at-bat was going to be and the preparation I do for that and continuing to get at-bats on a daily basis, which was a nice feeling."
Bader will compete with Lane Thomas and utility man Tommy Edman for starts until outfielders Jose Martinez (shoulder) and Tyler O'Neill (wrist) return from minor injuries.
"He's earned his opportunity to come back," Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said of Bader. "But other guys have earned an opportunity to play. What you've seen, and what you continue to see, is opportunities based on production not every night, but what gives us the best chance to win baseball games."
The Brewers will turn to starting pitcher Adrian Houser (5-5, 3.76 ERA) in the series finale. The right-hander is coming off one of the better starts of his young career: a career-high seven innings with just one run allowed on two hits at Washington on Friday. He wasn't involved in the decision as Milwaukee lost 2-1.
Brewers manager Craig Counsell was encouraged by that performance.
"I thought he almost got another gear, and he really took it to them," Counsell told reporters. "We've had some guys that (have) come in and really solidified our starting pitching, and Adrian's right at the head of that list.
"We're going to need these guys moving forward. It's a really positive sign what we're getting from our starters right now."
Houser is 0-1 with a 6.53 ERA in three career appearances against the Cardinals. He made his only start against them earlier this season, when he allowed five runs in four-plus innings in a 13-5 loss on April 22.
He is 4-0 with a 1.47 ERA in 17 outings as a reliever this season and 1-5 with a 5.28 ERA in 10 starts.
The Cardinals will counter with Adam Wainwright (9-8, 4.33 ERA), who has fared very well against the Brewers in his career. He is 16-8 with a 2.33 ERA in 39 games against them, including 32 starts.
Wainwright won his only start against them this season, holding to one run on four hits in six innings of a 5-2 victory on April 24.
He has been a much better pitcher at home (6-2, 2.19 ERA) than on the road (3-6, 6.64) this season.
--Field Level Media