SAN FRANCISCO -- Two teams in the heart of the National League wild-card race go head-to-head for the first of seven times in the next six weeks when the Milwaukee Brewers and San Francisco Giants open a four-game series on Thursday night.
Both teams are coming off losses, with the Giants falling 3-2 in their series finale in Seattle on Wednesday afternoon, shortly after the Brewers ended a homestand with a 7-3 defeat to the Washington Nationals.
The Brewers (58-46) begin play Thursday atop the NL wild-card standings, 5 1/2 games ahead of the Giants (52-51).
The clubs have not met this season. The will have a three-game rematch in Milwaukee in September.
Brewers veteran left-hander Wade Miley (1-1, 1.56 ERA) and Giants rookie right-hander Dereck Rodriguez (5-1, 2.72) will duel in the series opener.
Miley has pitched well in two starts since returning from a two-month stint on the disabled list due to a strained right oblique. He limited the Pittsburgh Pirates to two runs in five innings and the Los Angeles Dodgers to just an unearned run in six innings in his comeback attempts.
The 31-year-old has faced the Giants 11 times, 10 as a starter, in his career, going 4-4 with a 3.90 ERA. He's just 1-3 with a 4.63 ERA in seven starts in San Francisco.
Miley might catch a break in that one of the Giants who has a productive history against him -- first baseman Brandon Belt -- suffered a knee injury running the bases Wednesday and had to be removed from the game in Seattle.
Belt will undergo further examination Thursday.
In the lefty-on-lefty matchup, Belt has gone 5-for-10 with a triple, home run and four RBIs against Miley.
The Brewers' loss Wednesday capped a 3-3 homestand against the Dodgers and Nationals. They will play their next 14 games against teams from the NL West, the first eight on the road against the Giants and Dodgers.
San Francisco, meanwhile, returned home from Seattle on Wednesday night for just this four-game homestand.
The Giants have won (10) or tied (two) 12 of their last 13 series at home, but that one series loss came in their most recent, when they dropped consecutive games to the rival Oakland Athletics on the weekend leading into the All-Star break after winning the series opener.
Rodriguez has vaulted himself into the NL Rookie of the Year race by going unbeaten in his last six starts. His most recent was a six-inning, one-run effort in a 5-1 road win over the A's on Friday.
He has never faced the Brewers.
The 26-year-old has the best ERA among NL rookie starters (2.72), while his five wins also rank among the rookie leaders.
A visit to San Francisco for the Brewers means another chance for Ryan Braun to add to his gaudy statistics at AT&T Park.
Among all visitors who have played 25 or fewer games in the 19-year-old stadium, Braun ranks first in triples (two) and is tied for first in hits (29), doubles (eight), home runs (seven) and RBIs (17).