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08/14/08 8:40 PM ET

Braun hopes back is fine for LA series

Milwaukee (70-52) at Los Angeles (62-59), Friday, 9:40 p.m. CT

SAN DIEGO -- Ryan Braun will have about 250 supporters in the left-field bleachers at Dodger Stadium this weekend. He doesn't want to disappoint them.

Braun is trying to work his way back from a painful back injury that has forced him to miss five consecutive starts and almost certainly will cost him another game on Friday, when the Brewers open a three-game series against the Dodgers in Braun's hometown of Los Angeles.

But his strained intercostal had improved to the point that Braun was able to take about 25 swings in the batting cage for the first time on Thursday morning. He is hoping to be cleared to take batting practice on Friday afternoon.

He could then "possibly" play on Saturday, Braun said. He would have to first be cleared by the team's athletic training staff.

"It's still a little bit tight, but there's no pain," Braun said. "It's definitely getting there. I'm getting anxious, man. The games are all I have to look forward to, and rehabbing all day is no fun."

At the same time, the Brewers are trying to be cautious because Braun's injury is the type that could linger. The intercostal muscles line the rib cage and aid in respiration.

"They said this is a dangerous injury because it's the type of thing that you can re-aggravate," Braun said. "It could become a much more serious issue if I don't get it right. That's why I'm being careful."

Braun, who suffered the injury during a first-inning at-bat on Saturday against the Nationals, has a newfound respect for teammates like Yovani Gallardo and Chris Capuano who are in the middle of long-term rehabilitations.

Gallardo recently rejoined the team, but is a "long shot" to pitch again this season, general manager Doug Melvin said. Capuano is out for the year after undergoing the second Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery of his career.

"I don't know how those guys deal with it," Braun said. "That's crazy. It's awful. A few days, and I'm really anxious and really bored." It helps, Braun said, that the Brewers had been winning. They were on an eight-game streak before Thursday, when San Diego rallied against Ben Sheets for three runs in the seventh inning and a 3-2 win. Still, the Brewers won two of three from the Padres and took care of business during a 10-game run against last-place teams (2-1 at Cincinnati, 4-0 vs. Washington, 2-1 at San Diego).

Even with Thursday's loss, Milwaukee is 13-3 on the road since the All-Star break.

Pitching matchup
MIL: LHP Manny Parra (9-5, 4.02 ERA)
Following complete-game shutout gems from CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets in the first two games of the Brewers series against the Nationals, Parra delivered one of his best starts of the season in his last outing. The lefty allowed just six hits through seven innings, walking none and tying a career-high with nine strikeouts. He left the game with the score tied at one run apiece and got a no decision as Milwaukee took the back-and-forth game in 13 innings.

LAD: RHP Chad Billingsley (11-9, 3.07 ERA)
Against the Giants, Billingsley did a high-wire act, pitching into and out of jams in five of his six innings, allowing three runs on nine hits, but stranding nine baserunners. He kept the ball in the park, and struck out six, but walked three. He's never started against the Brewers.

The Brewers announced on Thursday they had come to terms with Thomas "Wayne" Dedrick, their 30th-round pick in June's First-Year Player Draft. Dedrick, listed as a third baseman and outfielder, will forego a basketball scholarship to David Lipscomb University in Nashville and will report to the Brewers Instructional League at Maryvale Baseball Park in Phoenix. The Brewers have signed 36 of their 54 selections including each of the first 26. The deadline to sign Draft picks is Friday night. ... First-round Draft pick Brett Lawrie is playing for Team Canada in the Beijing Olympics and drove in a run in his first official at-bat on Thursday. Lawrie's fielder's choice grounder cut the deficit to 7-6 in the eighth inning, but the favored Cubans won by that final score. Team USA beat the Netherlands, getting a three-run homer from former Brewers top prospect Matt LaPorta, who went to Cleveland in the Sabathia trade. ... With Braun sidelined, Laynce Nix started in left field for the Brewers on Thursday against Padres right-hander Jake Peavy. Nix was promoted on Wednesday after hitting .364 over his past 20 games for Triple-A Nashville with 15 extra-base hits including six home runs. "I don't want him to sit and get cool," manager Ned Yost said. "You have to take advantage of him while he's still swinging the bat good." Nix went 0-for-4 but made a nice diving catch in the seventh inning.

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Up next
• Saturday: Brewers (Dave Bush, 7-9, 4.35) at Dodgers (Derek Lowe, 9-10, 4.11), 9:10 p.m. CT
• Sunday: Brewers (Jeff Suppan, 8-7, 4.56) at Dodgers (Clayton Kershaw, 2-3, 3.78), 3:10 p.m. CT
• Monday: Brewers (CC Sabathia, 13-8, 3.04) vs. Astros (Randy Wolf, 8-10, 4.56), 7:05 p.m. CT

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.