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Must C Confrontation: Brewers and Pirates tussle

The last time Marco Estrada pitched against the Pirates, things got a little intense. He will be back on the mound for the Brewers on Tuesday when the teams meet again, and he predicted that what happened in Pittsburgh will stay in Pittsburgh.

"I mean, if something has to happen, then obviously, I'm going to do my job," Estrada said. "But I don't see anything happening. I don't think it's going to go any further than it already did."

On April 20 at PNC Park, the benches and bullpens cleared and punches were thrown in a brouhaha that began with Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole sharing a few choice words with Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez.

The resulting scrap led to suspensions for Gomez, Brewers catcher Martin Maldonado, Pirates outfielder Travis Snider and catcher Russell Martin. Maldonado and Snider have already served, Martin will be out one game beyond his stint on the disabled list and Gomez was awaiting word on his appeal as of Sunday.

Gomez blames Snider for the argument getting out of control, and he made that case to MLB officials.

Asked what he expected from the Pirates-Brewers rematch, Gomez said, "I don't know. We'll just see when we play against them what kind of feeling. I think they're going to come with intensity, and the world of baseball is going to be paying more attention when we play again. That's good for the Pirates and good for us. Just play right, play clean, and I think we'll be fine."

Snider began serving his suspension on Friday. When it was pointed out to him that he would return to active duty right before the Pirates visited Milwaukee, Snider just said, "Whatever happens in Milwaukee, we'll deal with it when we get there."

Cole was not suspended for his role in the event, and he will be starting opposite Estrada when the teams begin a three-game series on Tuesday night.

"I think it's over," Estrada said. "No one's talked about it. I'd forgotten about it myself, to be honest with you, until you just brought it up. I'm going to go out there and do my thing. I don't see it different than any other start. Just try to win."

The Brewers have won six of seven games between the teams this season despite outscoring the Pirates by only one run, 29-28.

With the Pirates' recent rise to prominence, it's become a nice rivalry.

"Any team in the NL Central is a rivalry," Estrada said. "We want to beat everybody, but a team in the NL Central is a team we want to beat even more. We want to jump a little further out in front of them by beating them."

Pirates: Banged up in the outfield
Andrew McCutchen was back in the Pirates' lineup on Sunday after missing one game -- his first of the season -- with a sore left foot. But Starling Marte, removed in the middle of Saturday's game with tightness in his lower back, could be looking at a longer absence.

Marte sat out Sunday's game -- his first miss of the season -- and even with Monday's additional day of rest, manager Clint Hurdle did not sound optimistic about his return for the series opener.

The outfield ranks were bolstered with the Sunday recall from Triple-A Indianapolis of Jaff Decker, a left-handed hitter capable of playing any of the three outfield positions.

Brewers: Another roster shakeup
The Brewers will be without third baseman Aramis Ramirez for the series, another blow to a team dealing with a spate of injuries in recent weeks.

Ramirez was expected to hit the disabled list with a strained left hamstring sustained during Saturday's win over the Yankees at Miller Park. If Ryan Braun is ready to return from a DL stint for a right rib-cage strain, the Brewers' sluggers could simply change places. That seemed the most likely scenario after Braun had a good batting-practice session on Sunday morning.

In six starts and one pinch-hit appearance against the Pirates this season, Ramirez homered and drove in five runs.

"That's baseball; sports, period," Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks said. "The next guy has to step up, but we're up for the challenge."

Worth noting
• Weeks is suddenly red hot, and he will get opportunities in the series because Pittsburgh is starting left-handers on Wednesday and Thursday. Weeks has raised his batting average to .318 with 11 hits in his last 19 at-bats, including three hits against the Yankees on Sunday.

• The pitching matchups for the series have the Pirates starters pitting a composite record of 3-7 (Cole has all three wins) against the Brewers trio's 8-5. However, the Bucs went into the recently-completed series against St. Louis with their starters' cumulative 1-10 against the Cards' 10-5, and took two of three.

• Gomez was struck above the left wrist by a David Phelps pitch in the third inning Sunday and was unable to swing the bat in the fourth and the sixth, but he played the entire game and underwent X-rays which were negative. He said the baseball hit him in a good spot.

• Second baseman Neil Walker and third baseman Pedro Alvarez have not missed a game for the Pirates this season. Comments