Milwaukee enters its third of four straight three-game sets against division opponents after taking two out of three against both Houston and Pittsburgh. The Cardinals dropped three straight to the Reds in a weekend series, getting swept for the first time since May 18-20 against the Dodgers.
The Brewers sit seven games back of the Reds and four behind the Cardinals. They have another NL Central showdown with the Reds after they finish with St. Louis. Despite winning back-to-back series, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said the losses haven't been easy to swallow.
"Right now, there's so much focus on what we need to do to try to get this thing going," Roenicke said. "It's been frustrating. It has. I think we got it going and then all of a sudden we give games away. Can't give games away if you want to win your division, and we've given away too many games."
St. Louis owns the season advantage over the Brewers, 4-2. The two clubs last met for a three-game series on April 27-29 at Busch Stadium, and Milwaukee hosted the Cardinals in its 2012 season-opening set April 6-8.
St. Louis took two out of three each time despite dealing with a handful of injuries. Lance Berkman started on Sunday for the first time since injuring his right knee on May 19, and the Cards now have all their position players available for the first time since May 14.
"It's tough to find time for everybody right now. It's just going to get worse, and that's a good problem to have," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "We're trying to keep a Matt Carpenter hot when he's done everything he's needed to do to be in there. But you look at the lineup and you say, how are we going to fit him in? It's going to be a juggling act. But as soon as one guy needs a day, you have a key, middle-of-the-lineup kind of guy sitting there. It's going to be tough like that for a while."
Brewers right-hander Mike Fiers will face St. Louis for the first time in his career. The 27-year-old was recalled from Triple-A in late May, and has filled in well in place of an injured Shaun Marcum. Fiers is holding opponents to a .230 average and has made five quality starts this season.
Fiers matched his longest outing of the season in his most recent start. The Brewers were shut out by the Marlins, and Fiers was saddled with the loss after allowing two runs over 7 2/3 innings while striking out nine. He had a 21 1/3 scoreless-innings streak snapped during that game.
The Brewers will face right-hander Lance Lynn. Lynn was named an All-Star this season, and has collected 11 wins to go along with a 3.41 ERA. Lynn threw six shutout innings in his last start, but posted a 9.98 ERA in his three previous outings. He's thrown 103 innings in his first year as a starter, and had his start pushed back from Saturday to Monday to give him more rest.
Lynn made his 2012 debut against the Brewers on April 8, scattering two hits and allowing one over 6 2/3 innings.Brewers: Marcum making progress
Roenicke said Marcum is still a few days away from throwing off a mound, but Roenicke has been pleased with the progress Marcum has been making while dealing with right elbow tightness. Marcum has been on the disabled list retroactive to June 15.
The 30-year-old Marcum has been limited to playing catch, and was expected to throw again on Sunday after taking Saturday off. Marcum missed all of the 2009 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, and the Brewers are being cautious with Marcum's recovery. Brewers rookie shortstop Jeff Bianchi made his first Major League start on Sunday, going 0-for-3 while batting eighth. Bianchi was called up during the All-Star break from Triple-A Nashville, where he batted .305 with 13 RBIs in 51 games this season. He struck out in his first Major League at-bat on Friday. Cardinals: Holliday swinging hot bat
Matt Holliday enters Monday's game riding a 14-game hitting streak. It is the longest such streak by a Cardinals hitter this season, and the second-longest active streak in the NL to Pittsburgh's Neil Walker (15). Matheny said right fielder Carlos Beltran could get the day off on Monday. Matheny said Beltran, who participated in the State Farm Home Run Derby, did not get much time to recover over the All-Star break and has been battling fatigue. Worth noting
The Cardinals have outscored the Brewers, 36-27, this season. The only run Lynn allowed against Milwaukee on April 8 was a homer by Corey Hart.