St. Louis Cardinals' Marcell Ozuna looks skyward after being called out at first base on a close play in the eighth inning against the Kansas City Royals on May 22 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis,Mo. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo
The only thing in Milwaukee hotter than the weather right now is the city's baseball team.
The Brewers have won five straight series and after taking three of four from the New York Mets during the weekend, and they go into a Memorial Day matchup with the St. Louis Cardinals at Miller Park sitting atop the National League Central with the NL's best record.
"(We're playing) good, consistent baseball," manager Craig Counsell said. "A lot of different names. We're binging up a lot of different names every night after a win. That's what happens. It's onto the next one. A big challenge and a big division rival."
Milwaukee has rode the success of its lockdown bullpen since the start of the season and has managed to stay afloat despite injuries to its top three starting pitchers because the offense has sprung to life in recent weeks.
The top of the Brewers' order has been especially potent during their recent hot streak. Lorenzo Cain, Christian Yelich and Jesus Aguilar combined to reach base nine times and scored six runs Sunday, with Aguilar's three-run homer providing the biggest blast of the day.
"When your top two guys in the lineup are on base that often, it's going to be a good offensive day," Counsell said. "We all know that's the key to this thing. You put them on base enough, the guys behind them will knock them in."
Aguilar has done a good job of that. He has six home runs in his last 10 games while batting .371 during that stretch.
"I just try to go up there to do my job," Aguilar said. "I try to take a quality at-bat every time. I try to see the ball, try to go to the middle, to help the team as much as I can. That's what's happening. Now I need to keep going. I need to stay positive."
The Cardinals had dropped 10 of 16 before taking the last two of a three-game weekend set at Pittsburgh and arrive in Milwaukee sitting second in the NL Central, four games behind the Brewers.
"They're grinding and fighting," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. "Whether it's hard hit balls, or lots of runs, or lots hits, they're still figuring out ways to keep us in games and take some of them. Anxious to get (to Milwaukee) and take another step forward."
The Brewers turned the tables last year, winning the season series for the first time since 2010 and have gone 3-3 against the Cardinals this season.
"We have to catch them," Cardinals outfielder Tommy Pham said Sunday.
Luke Weaver gets the start for St. Louis. Weaver has been the victim of bad luck lately, going seven innings in each of his last two starts but thanks to only three combined runs of support, fell to 3-4 with a 4.31 ERA.
He's 2-1 with a 4.40 ERA in five career starts against the Brewers and has a 3.50 ERA in three starts at Miller Park.
The Brewers hand the ball to left-hander Brent Suter, who has taken a victory in his last two starts and three of his last four overall.
Suter faced St. Louis earlier this season and took no decision after holding the Cardinals to a run, four hits and a walk in 5 1/3 innings.