The Milwaukee Brewers hope that home cooking will be the recipe for a wild-card spot as they open a four-game series against the visiting Miami Marlins on Thursday.
Left-hander Eric Lauer (10-7, 3.96 ERA) starts for the Brewers, while left-hander Braxton Garrett (3-6, 3.52) gets the nod for the Marlins.
Milwaukee (83-72), which plays its remaining seven games at home, closed within a half-game of Philadelphia (83-71) for the third National League wild card on Wednesday.
The Brewers recorded a 5-1 home victory over the St. Louis Cardinals behind six scoreless innings from Brandon Woodruff, while the Phillies lost 4-2 to the host Chicago Cubs. Philadelphia, 3-9 in its past 12 games, plays its final eight on the road but holds the head-to-head tiebreaker against the Brewers.
The Marlins (64-91) are coming off a 5-4, 10-inning loss to the New York Mets on Wednesday, a contest in which they squandered a four-run lead. Miami has won five in its past nine games.
Woodruff scattered five hits while striking out 10 and walking one on Wednesday. He logged double-digit strikeouts for a fourth straight start. Devin Williams escaped jams in the seventh and eighth innings to protect a 2-1 lead before the Brewers added three runs in the bottom of the eighth.
Brewers manager Craig Counsell said his team must concentrate on its own game, regardless of what the Phillies are doing.
"We know what's going on, but we've got to take care of our job," Counsell said. "That's always going to be the focus."
Lauer will be making his second start since coming off the injured list after recovering from left elbow inflammation. In his return on Friday at Cincinnati, he allowed two runs, both in the first inning, and lasted 2 2/3 innings during a no-decision. He gave up five hits, walked three and fanned three.
"Eric wiggled out of it, controlling the damage as much as he could," Counsell said after the Friday contest. "He had a really good second inning, then we just got into a pitch count and didn't want him to be tired in that situation so brought in a fresh guy. But he felt really good and we got a number of pitches in that he can build on."
Lauer is 0-3 with a 7.53 ERA in four career appearances vs. the Marlins, including three starts. Lauer has faced Miami once this season, giving up four runs in five innings and taking the loss in a 9-3 setback on May 14.
Garrett was on the IL from mid-August to mid-September due to an oblique strain. After returning for a start on Sept. 12, when he gave up two runs in 4 2/3 innings against the Texas Rangers, Garrett was optioned to Triple-A Jacksonville. He made one minor league start before returning to the Marlins.
In his latest outing with Miami, Garrett allowed a game-opening homer but no more runs in six innings to get the win in a 5-2 victory over the Washington Nationals on Friday.
"Obviously, he kept his composure and just went back to work," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "He just got a ball probably where he didn't want to get it on (Lane) Thomas. ... I think it shows composure and it probably does show growth from his standpoint, of not getting panicked about that, just kept making pitches."
Garrett is set to oppose the Brewers for the first time.
--Field Level Media