Brewers look for four-game sweep of Marlins

Day game after a night game ... but the Milwaukee Brewers -- who have won six games in a row -- can't afford to take a break.

The Brewers, engaged in a tough fight for a National League playoff berth, will go for a four-game sweep of their series against the host Miami Marlins on Thursday afternoon.

Milwaukee lost star right fielder Christian Yelich for the rest of the season due to a fractured kneecap on Tuesday, putting even more pressure on other hitters such as center fielder Lorenzo Cain, third baseman Mike Moustakas, catcher Yasmani Grandal and left fielder Ryan Braun.

Cain, for example, could use a rest on Thursday as he has been playing with a bruised left knee. But with Milwaukee's situation in the standings, he has continued to play.

"It's still painful to run, but I'm moving better than I was three or four days ago," Cain said. "My knee is not giving out on me right now."

While Cain plays in pain, Moustakas returned to the starting lineup on Wednesday after being out since Sept. 2 due to an injured left hand. Moustakas returned in style, going 3-for-4 with two homers and five RBIs.

With Yelich out, Moustakas leads active Milwaukee players in doubles (28), homers (33) and RBIs (81).

Braun, 35, has been dealing with back pain. He is no longer the same player who won NL MVP in 2011 and led the league with 41 homers the next season. But he still has 18 homers and 60 RBIs this season.

Grandal -- who like Braun is a former Miami Hurricanes player -- is one homer and one RBI from tying his career highs. He has 26 homers and 71 RBIs with a couple of weeks left to make this what almost certainly will be a career year.

Another Miami native, Gio Gonzalez (2-2, 3.98 ERA), will start for the Brewers on Thursday against fellow left-hander Caleb Smith (8-9, 4.11).

Gonzalez, who signed a pro contract out of high school as a first-round pick of the Chicago White Sox in 2004, has been outstanding against his hometown team, going 10-4 with a 2.42 ERA in 19 career starts against the Marlins.

In eight starts at Marlins Park, Gonzalez is 4-2 with a 2.68 ERA.

Gonzalez, who turns 34 a week from Thursday, has yet to face Miami this year. He has kept his team in games on a consistent basis this season. Proof of that is Milwaukee's 10-5 record when he starts.

Smith, meanwhile, is 0-2 with a 4.91 ERA in two career starts against Milwaukee.

But the good news for Smith is that he has been solid at Marlins Park, posting an 8-5 record with a 3.47 ERA. In contrast, he is just 5-11 with a 5.37 ERA on the road this year.

As for Miami's hitters, rookie second baseman Isan Diaz is symbolic of the struggles of some of these Marlins prospects. Diaz is hitting just .162, but the 23-year-old had two hits and two RBIs on Tuesday and smashed a two-run homer on Wednesday, giving a hint of what he can do for the rebuilding Marlins.

Asked about his slump since making his major league debut on Aug. 5, Diaz said he was initially perplexed.

"At first, I thought: 'What am I doing wrong?'" Diaz said. "Now I'm trying to study my at-bats and come up with a better game plan."

--Field Level Media