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Tonight's Matchup: Brewers (Marcum) vs Padres (Volquez)

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Three wins in a row has only happened twice this season. Can tonight be the third?

For the Brewers to do it they'll need another solid outing from Shaun Marcum (3.39 ERA, 3.43 FIP), who has been up to that challenge so far in 2012. Marcum has been very good lately, allowing just two runs over his last 14 innings. Seven of those innings and one of those runs came against the Pirates on Saturday, when he allowed just five hits and struck out eight without walking a batter.

Despite the fact that he's pitched pretty well lately, Marcum has been giving up home runs at an increased rate. He's allowed four in his last four starts after allowing just one in the six starts before that. Saturday night's game was also just the second time this season he's finished a start without walking a batter.

Marcum received a no-decision when these two teams met on May 1, pitching seven scoreless innings and allowing three hits and four walks while striking out six. No current Padres have faced him ten times or more.

He'll face Edinson Volquez (3.42 ERA, 3.76 FIP), who is having his best season in quite some time during his first year as a Padre. He still, however, leads the National League in walks allowed with 39. Five of those walks came on Saturday when he held the Diamondbacks to two runs on four hits over six innings, striking out five. He allowed a home run in that game but has only allowed two in 41 innings since May 1.

The key to beating Volquez appears to be patience. As I mentioned before he leads the NL in walks. He also throws first-pitch strikes less than 50% of the time. He has a low-to-mid 90's fastball but relies heavily on curves and changeups.

Volquez was the opposing pitcher in the aforementioned duel on May 1. He shut the Brewers out for seven innings that day on three hits, walking two and striking out four. Five Brewers have faced him ten times or more:

Ryan Braun 27 .364 .481 .545 1.027
Corey Hart 22 .300 .318 .650 .968
Aramis Ramirez 21 .263 .333 .316 .649
Rickie Weeks 15 .500 .600 1.083 1.683
Nyjer Morgan 13 .273 .385 .364 .748

Aramis Ramirez is back in the lineup tonight:

Corey Hart 1B
Norichika Aoki RF
Ryan Braun LF
Aramis Ramirez 3B
Rickie Weeks 2B
Cody Ransom SS
Carlos Gomez CF
Martin Maldonado C
Shaun Marcum P

In the bullpen:

Jose Veras pitched .1 innings (2 pitches) last night and has appeared in three straight games.
John Axford pitched two innings (23 pitches) last night.
Francisco Rodriguez pitched one inning (27 pitches) last night.
Juan Perez pitched one inning (13 pitches) last night.
Manny Parra and Tim Dillard last pitched on Tuesday.
Kameron Loe last pitched on Sunday.

It's a beautiful day out tonight, and the roof is expected to be open.