Although the Milwaukee Brewers have already clinched the NL Central, they still have a lot riding on their final few games with a chance to host a division series.
Closing the season against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Miller Park should significantly help those chances.The Brewers look to continue their home dominance over the Pirates and match a franchise record for victories in Monday night's series opener.Milwaukee (94-65) leads NL West champion Arizona by one game for the second-best record in the league. There are a couple different playoff scenarios for the Brewers -- including starting a series on the road against NL East champion Philadelphia -- but finishing with a better record than the Diamondbacks would guarantee they open the playoffs at Miller Park.Milwaukee set a team record with its 55th home victory, beating Florida 9-5 on Sunday. The Brewers are one victory away from matching the franchise record of 95, set in 1979 and matched three years later."We know how important that is," Sunday's starter Chris Narveson said. "We want to end it strong at home."Milwaukee would seem to have a good chance of notching one more win considering its 10-2 against Pittsburgh this season. The Brewers have also outscored the Pirates 32-13 in winning all six meetings in Milwaukee, and are 36-3 against them at Miller Park since 2007.Ryan Braun, one of the leading candidates for NL MVP, has been instrumental to this dominance.Braun is batting .349 with four homers and 15 RBIs against the Pirates this year, and has a 15-game hitting streak against Pittsburgh in Milwaukee, batting .433 with six home runs and 18 RBIs. The four-time All-Star is 6 for 11 with a homer and double lifetime against scheduled starter Charlie Morton (10-10, 3.67 ERA).The Brewers counter with Shaun Marcum (13-7, 3.31), who allowed a run and five hits in eight innings of Tuesday's 5-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs. That win matched his career high, set last year with Toronto.The right-hander has 2.48 ERA in his last eight outings, which includes two starts against the Pirates. He is 1-1 with a 1.31 ERA in three games against them this year.Although the Brewers are a major league-best 39-17 at home since May 13, they're 3-9 in Marcum's starts.The Pirates (71-88), however, have been just as bad on the road lately, dropping 15 of 20 away from PNC Park. They arrive in Milwaukee after losing to Cincinnati 5-4 on Sunday.Although Pittsburgh is headed for a 19th consecutive losing season, it has a chance to finish in fourth place for the first time since 2003. The Pirates, who finished last in the Central each of the last four seasons, own a one-game advantage over fifth-place Chicago.Morton earned his first victory since Aug. 8 on Tuesday, giving up three hits in six scoreless innings of a 5-3 win over Arizona. He had posted a 6.43 ERA in losing his previous four starts."He continues to work well, throw strikes, sink the ball," manager Clint Hurdle said. "He spun the ball well tonight. It was a very solid outing for him and we found a way to score a couple more than them."Morton pitched well in his lone start of the season against the Brewers on Aug. 14, yielding a run and four hits in 7 1/3 innings of a 2-1, 10-inning loss. The right-hander had recorded a 6.20 ERA in losing his four previous career starts versus Milwaukee.Andrew McCutchen is batting .143 with four RBIs against the Brewers this year, and is 1 for 8 with a double against Marcum.