Tonight's Matchup: Brewers (Gallardo) vs Braves (Maholm)

MILWAUKEE, WI - SEPTEMBER 11: Rickie Weeks #23 of the Milwaukee Brewers celebrates with Ryan Braun #8 after hitiing a solo home run in the bottom of the 1st inning against the Atlanta Braves at Miller Park on September 11, 2012 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Tonight we'll also be monitoring Game 1 of the Midwest League Championship Series as Wisconsin takes on Fort Wayne. Look for the Timber Rattlers Notebook over in the FanPosts starting around 6. - KL

The Brewers have a chance tonight to win their ninth consecutive home game and complete a series sweep of the Braves.

They'll go for it with Yovani Gallardo (3.76 ERA, 3.89 FIP) on the mound, and it's hard to imagine a better candidate. Gallardo needs 26 more strikeouts this season to set a new career high, and has roughly four more starts to get there. He picked up six K's against the Cardinals in Friday, when he allowed two runs on six hits over six innings.

Even when Gallardo doesn't pitch well, the Brewers are pretty good in his starts. They haven't lost a game with him on the mound since July 26, nine starts ago. His eight consecutive starts in a Brewer win are tied for the seventh longest streak in franchise history:

Pitcher Season Starts
Mike Caldwell 1979 11
Jeff D'Amico 2000 10
Steve Woodard 1999 10
Cal Eldred 1992 10
Bob McClure 1983 9
Pete Vuckovich 1981 9
Yovani Gallardo and 5 others 8

Gallardo has faced the Braves six times in his career, but this is the first time in 2012. Six current Braves have faced him ten times or more:

Player PA AVG OBP SLG OPS
Michael Bourn 30 .407 .448 .444 .893
Martin Prado 16 .200 .250 .267 .517
Dan Uggla 16 .267 .313 .267 .579
Chipper Jones 15 .273 .400 .545 .945
Brian McCann 15 .154 .267 .308 .574
Lyle Overbay 12 .200 .333 .200 .533

Tonight he'll face familiar foe Paul Maholm (3.67 ERA, 4.13 FIP) for the first time since his trade deadline move from the Cubs to the Braves. This is Maholm's eighth start for Atlanta, and he's posted a 3.48 ERA while striking out 38 batters over 44 innings since joining the Braves. He pitched 5.1 shutout innings against the Mets in a 3-0 win on Friday.

If you haven't seen Maholm before, get ready to see a lot of sliders. FanGraphs says he's throwing the pitch over 30% of the time in 2012, while using his fastball just 42% of the time. He'll also throw a changeup and curve pretty consistently.

Maholm faced the Brewers twice as a Cub earlier this season and got roughed up, allowing a combined ten runs on 12 hits over just eight innings. Five current Brewers have faced him ten times or more:

Player PA AVG OBP SLG OPS
Corey Hart 56 .333 .411 .646 1.057
Rickie Weeks 55 .182 .345 .205 .550
Ryan Braun 45 .351 .422 .514 .936
Aramis Ramirez 44 .244 .295 .439 .734
Carlos Gomez 18 .412 .444 .706 1.150

Here's tonight's lineup:

Norichika Aoki RF
Rickie Weeks 2B
Ryan Braun LF
Aramis Ramirez 3B
Jonathan Lucroy C
Travis Ishikawa 1B
Carlos Gomez CF
Jeff Bianchi SS
Yovani Gallardo P

And in the bullpen:

Jim Henderson pitched .1 innings (4 pitches) last night, and also pitched on Monday.
Brandon Kinzler pitched one inning (18 pitches) last night.
Francisco Rodriguez pitched one inning (11 pitches) last night.
Jose Veras pitched one inning (20 pitches) Monday.
John Axford pitched one inning (11 pitches) Monday.
Manny Parra and Kameron Loe last pitched on Sunday.
Livan Hernandez last pitched on Saturday.
Josh Stinson last pitched on Thursday.
Tyler Thornburg is trapped inside the bullpen suitcase and last pitched on Sunday, September 2.

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