After finishing up a series with the division-leading Pirates at Miller Park on Sunday, the Brewers take on the Cardinals and Reds. With a 10-7 win against the Pirates on Friday, the Brewers now sit seven games back heading into the second game of the series on Saturday.
Manager Ron Roenicke said he won't adjust his managerial approach for this crucial set of games, but he knows his team needs to show well over the next week to make a run for the postseason.
"We had expectations coming out of Spring Training," Roenicke said. "We thought this was going to be a contending team. We all felt good about the personnel we had. So we're at a point now where we haven't played consistently well all year, but it comes down to here, somewhere, we have to make a move."
The Brewers won six of nine games heading into the All-Star break but weren't the only team in the NL Central winning games to start July. Pittsburgh won 10 of its last 12 games heading into the break, grabbing the division lead.
A strong start to the 2011 season had the Pirates thinking playoffs until they faded in August and September and missed the postseason. Manager Clint Hurdle said any extra attention won't be a distraction to his players.
"We're getting more attention because we've earned it," Hurdle said. "You earn that through good play, you earn that through winning games. But how do we win games? By keeping it simple. By taking care of us. By each individual taking care of himself first and helping a brother out when he can help a brother out. And that's what we plan on doing as we move forward."
Entering this series with the Brewers, the Pirates have won seven straight series against NL Central opponents. They haven't won more than seven straight series against division foes since they won 10 straight in 1992.
"If you're doing really against your division, there's a good chance you're going to be at the top overall," second baseman Neil Walker said. "So we're hoping to continue that the second half."
Pirates: Correia on the mound
A winner in his last three decisions, right-hander Kevin Correia will pitch for the Pirates on Saturday. He faced the Brewers on June 1, winning an 8-2 decision at Miller Park. He gave up solo homers to Nyjer Morgan and Corey Hart.
Correia hasn't won four straight starts since 2010. After losing five straight starts from April 29 to May 29, Correia is 4-1 with a 4.17 ERA in his last eight starts.
With a three-run homer in the fourth inning, Neil Walker extended his hitting streak to 13 games. Atlanta's Chipper Jones is the only player in the National League who currently has a longer streak.
Brewers: Estrada set to make ninth start
For the first time in four games, the Brewers will start somebody not named Zack Greinke.
Right-hander Marco Estrada, whose last appearance was in long relief against the Astros, will throw on Saturday. Since coming off the disabled list, Estrada has made two starts, giving up five earned runs in 12 innings.
His last start was on July 3, when he gave up two earned runs in six innings, striking out six. He left with a 9-2 lead, but didn't get a decision in the Brewers' 13-12 extra-inning victory.
In five games against the Pirates last season, Estrada gave up two runs in 18 innings (1.00 ERA).
The Pirates are 38-1 when leading after six innings.