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COL@MIL: Marcum fans eight over eight solid frames

A Milwaukee win on Sunday and there will be a new leader in the National League Central.

The Brewers pulled to within half a game of the division-leading Cardinals after Saturday's 5-3 victory. Completing a three-game sweep of St. Louis would give Milwaukee a slim lead in the standings and a winning mark for its six-game homestand.

"Any time you can get a sweep against a team like this, it's incredible," Brewers outfielder Corey Hart said. "But for us, just to get the first two games under the belt kind of sets the tone. We've got the series, and we can come out [Sunday] and don't have the pressure."

For the Cardinals, holding the Brewers off Sunday will be important, as the two teams don't meet again until Aug. 1.

"Every time you play the Brewers it's going to be fun and it's going to be a challenge," Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina said. "They have a pretty good offense and pitching staff. It's going to be good to play them again, no matter what month it is."

As it is, it's only June, something Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke is aware of.

"I'm not just saying this -- it's too early in the season," Roenicke said. "My biggest focus is on how we played these last two games, and hopefully we play another good game [on Sunday]. You can play a good game and they still beat you, so the standings this early [do not matter]. We've got too long a time to go. We're not even halfway yet."

Almost fittingly, these battles between the top two teams in the NL Central have featured two of the league's top hitting tandems: St. Louis' Lance Berkman and Albert Pujols and Milwaukee's Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder.

So far, the Brewers' big two have come up bigger, as Milwaukee has two wins and Braun and Fielder have each hit home runs in the series. Berkman has homered, but he and Pujols are a combined 3-for-15 in the series.

Cardinals: Westbrook looks to continue success in Milwaukee
Sunday starter Jake Westbrook has started two games against the Brewers in his career, going 0-0 with a 1.29 ERA. One of the starts came with his former team, the Cleveland Indians, and both starts were at Miller Park.

In his last appearance against Milwaukee, on Sept. 6, 2010, Westbrook went six innings, allowing two runs on five hits and took a no-decision in an eventual 8-6 win for St. Louis. He was very effective in the other start, pitching eight innings and allowing an unearned run while with Cleveland in '06.

Brewers: Home cooking continues
• Milwaukee improved its Major League-leading home record to 24-9 with Saturday's win. Part of that is the Brewers' .283 team batting average at home, which is second in the Majors, as well as their .837 on-base-plus-slugging mark at home, which leads the league. Eleven of Fielder's 18 home runs have come at home.

• Brewers starter Shaun Marcum will face the Cardinals for the first time in his career, and he's on a roll. The right-hander has allowed two runs over 13 innings in his past two starts. Worth noting
• Brewers shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt is expected to return to the starting lineup after Craig Counsell started Friday's and Saturday's games.

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