While the Braves have been in the playoff race all season and currently hold a solid Wild Card lead, the Brewers' season seemed lost not so long ago. But after winning 15 of 20 games, including four of seven on its just-completed road trip, Milwaukee will start a six-game homestand with renewed hope.
"Going home and playing Atlanta, that's going to be a tough series, and we'll see if we can continue to do this," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said.
Sunday's 10-inning loss to the Cardinals was a big blow, with the Brewers sliding 6 1/2 games behind St. Louis for the National League's second Wild Card berth. Still, Milwaukee remains within striking distance after winning the series, something that also helped Atlanta tighten its grip on the top Wild Card spot.
The Braves are coming off a three-game sweep of the Mets to begin their road trip and have won five straight. Roenicke said Atlanta is "playing really well."
"But they also know what happened last year," Roenicke added. "They were a long ways ahead, and they know what happened. They're going to do some things, I think, to prevent that."
A season ago, the Braves finished the season 8-18, losing a big Wild Card lead to the Cardinals. Roenicke doubts a similar collapse is coming this time.
"I think their relievers have been through what they went through last year, and they've bounced back and been great this year," he said. "A couple of those relievers last year, they got worn out. I think they're a little more prepared for that this year."
The Braves will start Mike Minor in their first game at Miller Park since April 7, 2011, when the Brewers sealed a 3-1 series win. This season, the teams' only meeting came from April 13-15, when the Braves swept three games at Turner Field.
Wily Peralta, a 23-year-old rookie, will make his second big league start for the Brewers.
Braves: Minor riding hot streak
When July began, Minor carried an ERA of 6.20, but it's been smooth sailing for the left-hander since. In his last 11 outings, the 24-year-old has posted a 2.58 ERA and held opponents to a .206 average.
On Wednesday against Colorado, Minor allowed one hit and struck out seven over seven shutout innings. But he wasn't satisfied afterward, partly due to his four walks.
"I kind of just dodged them," Minor said. "To me it wasn't one of my best starts. On paper it looks good. I just got lucky. They had a couple of guys on, and I got out of it again. My walks didn't hurt me this time, and I didn't give up a home run. That's always good."
Brewers: Braun, Hart leave Sunday's game
The Brewers absorbed a couple of blows on Sunday, when first baseman Corey Hart and left fielder Ryan Braun exited in back-to-back innings.
Hart left in the fifth with a sprained left ankle after he appeared to be moving gingerly both on the bases and in the field. Braun came out in the sixth with a sore right wrist but said he'd be all right.
Peralta gave up three runs in six innings on Wednesday at Miami, although two of those runs scored after his exit. He gave up five hits, walked four and struck out three, and Roenicke said he was "really happy with the way [Peralta] threw."
Minor held the Brewers to an unearned run on two hits over 7 1/3 innings on April 14 in Atlanta.