The Milwaukee Brewers are one of the hottest teams in baseball, and they hope to keep it that way by sending their ace out to begin a nine-game road trip.
Yovani Gallardo looks win a fourth consecutive decision Friday night, when the Brewers face the St. Louis Cardinals in the opener of a three-game series between NL Central co-leaders.Milwaukee (21-14) has won nine of its last 11, compiling a .283 batting average with 18 home runs and outscoring opponents 75-45. The Brewers completed a three-game sweep of Florida with a 5-3 win on Thursday."Right now, we've been scoring enough runs and we're playing good team baseball," shortstop J.J. Hardy told the Brewers' official Web site.The Brewers have also won seven of nine on the road after a 2-6 stretch. Following this series, Milwaukee travels to Houston before starting interleague play at Minnesota.Gallardo (4-1, 3.09 ERA) has put together his own streak. He's won three consecutive decisions while posting a 1.80 ERA with 38 strikeouts in 35 innings over five starts as Milwaukee has gone 4-1. He won a career-best four consecutive games from Aug. 31-Sept. 17, 2007.The right-hander, however, labored through five innings on Saturday, allowing two runs and five hits with eight strikeouts and four walks in a 12-6 win over the Chicago Cubs."It was a long game, I'll tell you that, but we came out on top, so it was worth it," said Gallardo, who leads the team in wins and has the lowest ERA of any member of the rotation.Gallardo is 0-1 with a 9.28 ERA in two career starts against the Cardinals (21-14), but he hasn't faced them since losing on Aug. 15, 2007.Milwaukee went 10-5 against St. Louis last season, winning six of nine at Busch Stadium.The Cardinals are looking to build on Thursday's 5-1 win at Pittsburgh that helped avoid a sweep to the last-place Pirates and keep pace with Milwaukee."It was a win we really needed," Cardinals starter Mitchell Boggs said after the team's fourth victory in 11 games.St. Louis will turn to Kyle Lohse (3-2, 4.25) in the hopes he can avoid a third consecutive loss and rediscover his early-season form.The right-hander is 0-2 with an 11.32 ERA and has served up three homers in his last two games. That came after going 3-0 with a 1.97 ERA and one homer allowed in five April starts.Lohse was solid on Saturday, allowing two runs and three hits in five innings before getting tagged for five runs and six hits in the sixth en route to an 8-3 loss at Cincinnati."It just kind of got away there," Lohse said. "I thought I was rolling there for a while, and they put together quite an inning."Lohse is 3-3 with a 5.22 ERA in 11 games -- 10 starts -- against the Brewers. He had no record and a 4.26 ERA in three starts against Milwaukee last year, all St. Louis losses.