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Greinke holds Cubs scoreless through 6 2/3

The last time the Brewers and Cardinals met, Milwaukee finished a series sweep and took over first place in the National League Central from St. Louis. Now, it's the Cardinals who are 2 1/2 games behind the first-place Brewers.

The showdown opens at Miller Park with a pair of aces on the mound, as Zack Greinke and Chris Carpenter will start on Monday. The two faced off in the teams' last series, with Greinke and the Brewers winning, 5-3, on June 11.

"Zack really threw the ball well the last time we faced him," Cardinals infielder Ryan Theriot said. "It's one of those games that you really get excited for as a player and it's a big series. That first game is a big one."

Greinke has delivered four consecutive quality starts and tossed 6 2/3 innings of shutout ball against the Cubs in his last outing.

Carpenter dropped to 1-6 for the season after his last meeting with Milwaukee, but has gone 5-1 since and has finished at least seven innings in six of his last seven outings. The veteran is 2-3 with a 4.35 ERA in eight career starts in Milwaukee.

Both teams are fresh off series wins against NL Central opponents and St. Louis third baseman David Freese likes the fact the series starts off with the Carpenter-Greinke matchup.

"It's what you ask for: the best against the best. We've got our ace this year against their ace, and it's going to be exciting," Freese said. "That place is going to be wild, and they're going to be ready to go. But we've got to go in there really focused and really determined to grab that first one."

Milwaukee first baseman Prince Fielder said the Brewers are looking forward to the series, but they are aware winning now doesn't guarantee anything.

"I think everybody's excited," he said. "Usually when you're excited to come to the field, it means you have a good team and everybody is excited and just trying to keep it going. We're in a good position now, but there's still two months left in the season and we've got to keep it going."

Cardinals: Second base working out for Theriot
Ryan Theriot made his first start of the season at second base Saturday night, after playing three innings at the position in the Cardinals' Friday night win over the Cubs. Theriot was St. Louis' shortstop for much of the season, but with the Cardinals' acquisition of Rafael Furcal Sunday, he may see more time at second base. While playing second, Theriot went 6-for-9 with six RBIs in the series against the Cubs.

Brewers: Riding a hot streak
Milwaukee enters its series opener with St. Louis on a six-game win streak, after sweeping the Cubs and Astros. It matches the team's season-high for consecutive wins and also put the Brewers 11 games over .500 for the first time since May 21, 2009.

Worth noting
• A big reason Milwaukee and St. Louis have been fighting atop the NL Central all season is they've played well against the division's bottom two teams, Houston and Chicago. The Cardinals have gone 8-4 against the Astros and 7-2 against the Cubs this season. The Brewers are 6-3 against the Astros and 6-4 against the Cubs.

• The Brewers' big duo came up with big hits in that June series sweep, but the Cardinals' sluggers struggled. Milwaukee's Ryan Braun and Fielder combined to hit three home runs and drive in six, while Albert Pujols and Lance Berkman went a combined 3-for-21.

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