Their nine-game winning streak halted by the Cardinals on Monday, the Brewers will look to even the series and pad their early National League Central lead in the second game of a three-game series Tuesday night at Miller Park.
The Cardinals, on the other hand, can inch closer to the division-leading Brewers and secure another series victory with a win behind Shelby Miller on Jackie Robinson Day. He'll be opposed by Marco Estrada -- first pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. CT -- in another showdown between two division rivals who appear poised to make the NL Central race one to watch this season.
The Brewers enter Tuesday with a two-game cushion over the Cardinals in the division standings but having lost 24 of the last 35 games played between these two clubs. During that stretch, St. Louis has outscored Milwaukee, 190-119.
While these clubs have an opportunity to make an early statement, both managers are trying to sell this as just another series.
"We know we have to beat them," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said, "but we felt that same way against Pittsburgh. When I first got here, we played well against [the Cardinals], but last year we didn't play as well. We weren't at full strength, but we didn't play that well against them last year. They're all important. We know if we're going to compete with Pittsburgh, we're going to compete with Cincinnati, we're going to compete with the Cardinals, we have to play well. I want to just play good baseball. If we play good baseball, I like our team and what we can do. Whether it's the Cardinals or whomever else, we should be able to compete with anyone."
The Cardinals are nearing the conclusion of their early NL Central tour, during which they've gotten an in-person look at all four division challengers. The Cardinals already earned a pair of series wins against Cincinnati, another versus Chicago and lost two of three to Pittsburgh.
Now, they have a chance to nip Milwaukee.
"We've seen Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Chicago, and everybody is looking good," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "Everybody is playing well, and we've seen that the Central is no secret like it was last year when people seemed surprised. The thing that adds to that is the Brewers are a solid team that is going to be right in the mix.
"People love to make early-season predictions, and the predictions that we had, this team is going to be right in the middle of things just like all the other teams in the NL Central. We realize they have all the things you need to be a successful team, and I think they're showing everybody right now. I don't think anybody out here in uniform is surprised with where they are right now."
Cardinals: Miller seeks improved results
Miller on Tuesday night gets his third shot at his first win -- and his career numbers suggest he will get it. Miller has never lost to Milwaukee, going 3-0 and posting a 2.03 ERA against the Brewers in five starts last season. In two of those games, he did not allow a run.
Things have not been so smooth sailing for Miller to start this season. He has given up eight runs on 13 hits -- four of which have been home runs -- in his first 11 1/3 innings. Miller did manage to finish six innings in his most recent outing, and he said afterward that it felt better than his first, despite it being another losing effort.
Miller, the third-place finisher in the 2013 National League Rookie of the Year vote, did not lose three straight at any point last season.
"He seems to get hurt with one or two pitches, which is sometimes attributed to concentration; other times it's hard to consistently execute," Matheny said on Monday. "That's what this game is all about. But I think he's learning and realizing that one pitch can make a big difference in the game. We saw that in Spring Training, and we've seen the same kind of trend start in the beginning of the year."
Brewers: Trouble against Cards
Estrada has had a hard time against the Cardinals in his career, going 0-4 with a 5.74 ERA in 12 appearances, including 0-3 with a 5.67 ERA as a starter. The toughest outing of all came last May 5, when the Cardinals finished a four-game sweep at Miller Park and Estrada issued a career-high five walks while allowing nearly as many earned runs (eight) as he recorded outs (10).
"It was one of the worst outings of my career, I think," Estrada said that day. "I had no idea where the ball was going. … It's one of those outings where I had no clue what I was doing out there. I felt lost."
Overall, Estrada had a 6.62 ERA at home last season and a 2.09 ERA on the road.
• In observance of Jackie Robinson Day, all players and uniformed personnel will wear No. 42 on their jerseys for Tuesday's game. The Brewers will hold a pregame ceremony to commemorate the day.
• In his past 11 starts dating to last season, Estrada is 4-0 with a 2.18 ERA.
• Catcher Yadier Molina will return to the Cardinals' starting lineup on Tuesday night after being given his first day off this season. Peter Bourjos will most likely join him, too, as Bourjos continues to earn the majority of starts in center field over Jon Jay.
• The Brewers were 9-9 against the Cardinals in 2011, Roenicke's first regular season as manager. But they fell to 6-9 in 2012 and 5-14 in 2013.
• Infielder Mark Ellis (left knee patellar tendinitis) was unable to play in a Triple-A game (as part of his Minor League rehab assignment) on Monday due to a rain postponement. Matheny said there was a chance Ellis could rejoin the team and come off the disabled list before this series in Milwaukee concludes.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.