Have the Braves' bats gone cold, or is the Brewers' rotation simply that hot right now?
Whatever the answer may be, the end result has been the same in the first two games of this series between Atlanta and Milwaukee: back-to-back 2-0 wins for the Brewers, whose starters own a 1.70 ERA over the last 12 games. Even when Milwaukee went to its bullpen to find a starter, as was the case Saturday with Donovan Hand, it's worked out for the best.
"They're giving us a chance to win almost every game," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "There's a better feeling in the dugout during the games when you know you're not down every day. And offensively I think we've been better also."
That hasn't been the case offensively for the Braves, who haven't scored in 24 innings entering Sunday afternoon's series finale at Miller Park. Atlanta has lost five of its last six games, including the first two games of this series, and mustered only six hits over the past two games.
For the second straight day, the Braves will face a Brewers pitcher they've never seen before. On Saturday, it was Hand, who put together 4 2/3 scoreless innings on only 52 pitches. On Sunday, it will be Alfredo Figaro, making his fifth start for the Brewers after beginning the year in the bullpen.
Figaro has started four of his last five appearances since a May 28 spot start, and he's been inconsistent in those outings. After limiting the Marlins to three hits over seven scoreless innings, the right-hander took a step back against the Astros on Tuesday, allowing four earned runs on five hits in 4 1/3 innings.
Figaro should, at least, have the element of surprise on his side, as the Braves have never faced him before.
"Sometimes ignorance is bliss, for both parties," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "We don't know him and they don't know us. Sometimes it's paralysis by analysis."
The Brewers definitely know Braves starter Paul Maholm, however. The lefty will be making his 23rd career start against Milwaukee, having gone 3-11 with a 5.12 ERA against Milwaukee in his career.
Maholm has held opposing teams to two earned runs or fewer in three of his past four starts, but he's been much more homer-prone lately than he was earlier this year. After yielding four homers over his first 10 starts combined, Maholm has given up one in each of his past five starts.
Braves: Beachy nearing start of throwing program
Brandon Beachy, who felt tenderness in his pitching elbow last week during his fifth Minor League rehab start, is expected to throw a bullpen session once the Braves' road trip ends Wednesday in Kansas City.
Beachy is coming back from Tommy John surgery last June and had been scheduled to start for the Braves this week against the Mets. Gonzalez said the setback was normal, but Atlanta will "play it safe" in monitoring Beachy's return. Beachy should throw a few times in the bullpen before restarting his Minor League rehab assignment, though nothing else has been scheduled past his upcoming side session.
• Justin Upton was given the day off Saturday but he should be back in the lineup Sunday, as Gonzalez said it was "just a little breather."
Brewers: Estrada set for rehab start
Marco Estrada will begin his Minor League rehab assignment with Class A Wisconsin on Sunday. Estrada, out since June 5 with a strained left hamstring, might need only one rehab start before returning to the Brewers' rotation.
"We'll see how it goes. If he still feels it in his leg, then we'll maybe have to go another one," said Roenicke, who hinted that Estrada could return during the Brewers' series against the Pirates the last weekend of June.
• Francisco Rodriguez picked up his sixth save of the season Saturday and became the 25th pitcher in Major League history with at least 300 saves.
• Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez went 3-for-4 on Saturday, bringing him one hit shy of 2,000 for his career.
• The Braves have lost eight straight games at Miller Park dating back to April 2011, scoring a total of nine runs in those eight losses, including four shutouts.