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News » Brewers-Cardinals Preview 2009-05-18


Brewers-Cardinals Preview 2009-05-18


Brewers-Cardinals Preview 2009-05-18
Braden Looper made the transformation from a closer to a starter with the St. Louis Cardinals the past two seasons, and a solid 2008 earned him a free-agent deal with the Milwaukee Brewers.

After a fast start, Looper has cooled off considerably.

The streaking Brewers hope his first start against his former teammates can get Looper back on track, and he'll take the mound Monday night at Busch Stadium looking to lead Milwaukee to a sixth straight win in the makeup of a game that was rained out on Friday.

Looper (3-2, 4.70 ERA) was selected by the Cardinals (21-16) with the third overall pick in the 1996 draft, but was traded in 1998 after appearing in only four games for St. Louis. After spending the next seven years as a reliever with Florida and New York - the last three as a closer - Looper signed with St. Louis before the 2006 season, and became a full-time starter for the first time in his career in 2007 and 2008.

After winning 12 games and posting a 4.16 ERA last season with the Cardinals, the Brewers (23-14) signed Looper to a one-year deal in February, hoping the veteran right-hander could fit in a rotation that lost CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets via free agency.

Looper looked great in his first four starts, going 2-0 with a 2.45 ERA, but is 1-2 with a 7.71 ERA in three May outings. He picked up a win Wednesday against Florida despite allowing five runs - three in the first inning - and eight hits over six innings in Milwaukee's 8-6 victory.

"That's not the way you want to start," Looper told the Brewers' official Web site. "But I looked at it, and some point you have to tip your cap. ... Those guys are paid to hit over there. Once I got past that first inning, I was all right. ... Our guys picked me up, for sure."

Looper has never allowed a run in 17 career relief innings against the Cardinals.

St. Louis hasn't been scoring many runs recently, either. With an 8-2 loss to Milwaukee on Sunday, the Cardinals have totaled just 10 runs in their last five games since outfielder Ryan Ludwick went down with a strained right hamstring.

"We had a lineup in there that can win the game, but we didn't," manager Tony La Russa said. "It's a rough time, so we've just got to play our way through it."

The Brewers' offense hasn't had similar issues. They've averaged 6.5 runs while going 11-2 in their last 13 games, and Prince Fielder has four homers and five RBIs in his last 10 contests.

Fielder is 3 for 11 in his career against Cardinals starter Kyle Lohse (3-2, 4.25), who will be trying to bounce back from a pair of rough starts. Lohse was 3-0 with a 1.97 ERA through his first five outings, but is 0-2 with an 11.32 ERA in his last two.

He gave up seven runs and nine hits in six innings in an 8-3 loss at Cincinnati on May 9, and was due to start Friday's opener against the Brewers before it was rained out.

Lohse is 3-3 with a 5.22 ERA in 11 appearances - 10 starts - against Milwaukee. He'll get a break as the Brewers will be without second baseman Rickie Weeks, who left Sunday's game with soreness in his left wrist.

Weeks, who's hitting .272 with 24 RBIs but has a history of hand and wrist injuries, is set to meet with a hand specialist in Phoenix.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: May 18, 2009

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