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PIT@STL: Wandy fans Schumaker to get out of the 18th

There must be something about playing in PNC Park that makes Ryan Braun want to drive in runs.

In 36 career games in the Pirates' yard, Braun has racked up 36 RBIs, more than he has in any other opposing team's stadium. Braun's numbers at PNC Park also include eight home runs and a .297 average.

Braun and the Brewers will visit Pittsburgh for the first time this year for a three-game set that begins on Friday. In the series opener, Milwaukee will send right-hander Mike Fiers to the mound against southpaw Wandy Rodriguez.

"We haven't been there at all this year, which is weird," Braun said. "We played them to start the second half, so it doesn't feel too long ago, but it's weird that we haven't been to one of the teams in our division yet."

The Brewers took two of three games from the Pirates at Miller Park in their first series after the All-Star break. Overall, the two teams have split their six meetings so far in 2012.

Since 2007, Milwaukee owns a 61-23 record against Pittsburgh. The Brewers have won the season series in each of the past five years.

Things could be different this season, though, as the Pirates are currently in the playoff hunt. Along with Atlanta, Los Angeles and St. Louis, Pittsburgh is right at the top of the National League Wild Card race.

"We know what's at stake every single game," Pirates catcher Rod Barajas said. "We're not going to sit here and put extra pressure on ourselves and try to do more than we're capable of doing. These games are just as important as the games at the end of September. These games count just the same. We've been trying to play playoff baseball from the get-go. You can't sit back and say we have time.

"You know what's at stake. You're playing for something, and you're trying to do something special. We want to turn things around. Things haven't been going too well for this organization. We'd love to be that team that breaks the spell -- and not the .500 number either. We're talking about playing playoff baseball in October."

The Bucs' success hasn't gone unnoticed by Braun, who brings a .308 average, 34 home runs and 85 RBIs on the year into Friday's matchup.

"They should be excited," Braun said. "The team, obviously, is still right in it -- they're having a tremendous season. I would imagine it will be a little different atmosphere than it's been in the past. [The Pirates] deserve it. Not only are they a good team, but they're fun. They're exciting to watch. It's an exciting time for their fans, I would imagine."

Brewers: Fiers looking to snap skid
• Although Fiers famously flirted with a perfect game on Aug. 7, retiring the first 18 Reds hitters of the evening, his two most recent starts have been a bit rockier.

The righty was shelled in Colorado on Aug. 13, as the Rockies tagged him for eight runs on nine hits in just two innings. In his next outing, the Phillies plated four runs on five hits over five innings, handing the righty his second straight loss.

"I feel like I can finish this season out strong," Fiers said afterward. "That's what I hope to do. I've heard rumors about limiting my innings and getting shut down, but I try not to worry about that. I'm looking forward to my next start. I need to be better."

Fiers is 6-6 with a 2.83 ERA this season. The 27-year-old has thrown 87 innings in 2012.

Pirates: Rodriguez coming off win in relief
• Rodriguez's first four outings with Pittsburgh were all starts, and three of them resulted in losses. The lefty didn't pick up his first win until Sunday, when he pitched the final two frames of the Pirates' 19-inning win over the Cardinals. The appearance kept Rodriguez from taking the ball in his regularly-scheduled Monday start.

Rodriguez, who is 8-12 with a 4.00 ERA this year, beat the Brewers in his only start against them this season. While he was still with the Astros, Rodriguez gave up two runs, neither of which were earned, over 5 1/3 innings.

In 40 plate appearances against Rodriguez, Braun is batting .389 (14-for-36) with five doubles, four homers and seven RBIs. He also has four walks and six strikeouts.

• The Pirates have Thursday off after playing 20 games in 20 days. Their record in that span was 7-13.

Worth noting
• The Brewers finished their recent homestand with a 5-2 record. They roll into Pittsburgh on the heels of a three-game sweep of the Cubs. As for the Pirates, they went 2-4 during their recent road trip, and San Diego just swept them.

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