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Cardinals-Brewers preview

MILWAUKEE -- Craig Counsell knows the Milwaukee Brewers are close to snapping out of their recent funk but when you're playing some of the better teams in the league, close is hardly enough.

Each loss during Milwaukee's current six-game losing streak has come by three runs or less with three of them settled by a one-run margin, including the last two to St. Louis.

"We were a play away a bunch of these games during the losing streak," said Counsell, the Brewers' manager. "But you have to make those plays."

Starting pitching has been a strong suit for Milwaukee during its skid and the Brewers will hope Matt Garza will be able to keep things going Wednesday night when he takes the mound in series finale with the Cardinals at Miller Park.

Garza was the victim of bad luck his last time out. He cruised through five scoreless innings before a pair of Jonathan Villar errors led to a five-run outburst by the Pirates, capped off by a grand slam from Jody Mercer.

He allowed five hits and three walks in that contest, but struck out a season-high nine batters.

"The first time thought the lineup was as good as I've seen since I've been in the dugout," Counsell said. "He was really crisp, his off-speed stuff was outstanding. It was swing-and-miss stuff."

The Cardinals have been anything but kind to Garza during his 11-year career. He's made 13 starts against St. Louis, going 4-5 with a 4.25 ERA.

He's faced them once this season, allowing seven runs (only four earned) over 5 2/3 innings of a 7-1 loss July 1 at Busch Stadium.

St. Louis, which improved to 31-13 against the Brewers in Milwaukee under manager Mike Matheny, will try to polish off a sweep behind right-hander Luke Weaver.

Weaver earned his first major league victory in his last start, holding the A's to a run on four hits.

The key to Weaver's success against Oakland was drawing contact.

He got eight outs on the ground with just two fly balls -- one of them a home run by Yonder Alonso.

"If you're not going to strike them out, obviously try and get the ground ball," said Weaver, who struck out seven Oakland batters and has 16 in 15 innings of work since being called up. "The fly balls sometimes will keep going like you saw tonight. I know they stress it in the minor leagues and it's a big part of getting those double plays and eliminating the sac flies and all those types of things."

He'll be facing Milwaukee for the first time in his career.

"He's asking all the right questions still," Matheny said. "He's learning and he's improving and he's got a great repertoire to work with, very creative. With all the ground balls he got, that's a good sign that he's trusting his stuff."