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MLB Now breaks down Lackey to Cardinals

The Brewers and Cardinals split the first two games of their big weekend showdown, leaving Matt Garza and John Lackey to face off in the series finale.

Following Justin Masterson on Saturday, Lackey will be the second straight Trade Deadline acquisition to make his Cardinals debut. It will be Lackey's first start at Busch Stadium -- he pitched there in relief for Boston during last year's World Series -- and he is excited about the outing.

"I think it's pretty well known what a great baseball town this is," Lackey said. "You call around when you hear something is going to happen. I talked to some guys that have played here, and they all loved playing here and thought it was a great place, and thought I would love it."

Lackey will likely be throwing to another Cardinals newcomer, A.J. Pierzynski, who was his battery-mate earlier this season in Boston.

"We worked together a lot," Lackey said. "He's an aggressive game-caller, and I think I'm pretty aggressive the way I pitch. I think those coincide pretty well together, I guess."

First baseman Lyle Overbay has seen John Lackey more than any other member of the Brewers. Not only is he 11-for-32 against him for his career, they were Spring Training teammates with the Red Sox in 2013.

Overbay is a fan.

"He's one of the reasons I said [during that] Spring Training, 'Man, these guys are the team to beat,'" said Overbay, whose prediction rang true when the Red Sox won the World Series. "He was finally healthy. The last two or three years, he had been pitching hurt. I was like, 'You watch, he'll start getting some strength and take off.'"

Even so, Overbay doesn't think the Cardinals' acquisition of Lackey and Masterson was all bad news for National League Central rivals.

"The one that I think helps us is [that they gave] away [Allen] Craig in the Lackey trade," he said. "He's done some damage against us. We may not face Lackey every time, but we would always face Craig."

When Garza takes the mound, he'll be bringing a 3-3 record and 4.81 ERA in nine career starts against St. Louis. He took a no-decision in his most recent start, on Tuesday, pitching seven one-run innings against Tampa Bay.

Brewers: Nelson slated to start on Tuesday
Scratched from Saturday's start because of a blister on his right index finger, Jimmy Nelson won't have to wait long to get back on the mound, as the team believes he'll be ready to pitch against the Giants on Tuesday at Miller Park.

The timing of Nelson's minor setback worked out for the Brewers. It came during a three-game series sandwiched between a pair of off-days, allowing for some easy rotation shuffling, and it also gave the Brewers a way to split up Nelson and Wily Peralta, something manager Ron Roenicke and pitching coach Rick Kranitz were already mulling.

Nelson developed the blister during his start last Sunday against the Mets, a 2-0 loss at Miller Park, and the skin tore away during a long-toss session earlier this week in St. Petersburg. He will attempt a light bullpen session on Sunday to confirm his availability for Tuesday. If he does have a setback, Yovani Gallardo would move up a day.

Cardinals: Wong repays Matheny's faith
Manager Mike Matheny considered sitting Kolten Wong on Saturday, knowing that the second baseman was in a slump, but he liked the matchup against Kyle Lohse, and Wong proved him right with a 3-for-5 night that included three RBIs and a home run.

The biggest concern with Wong has been his strikeout rate; of his previous 36 at-bats, 13 were strikeouts.

"It's always concerning, especially a guy with the hand-eye coordination, the athleticism, the bat speed that Kolten brings," Matheny said. "He's got above-average all of those things. We know he can right the ship. It's just a matter of him getting out there and working. I know we've seen the strikeouts, but we've also seen some balls blistered, driven to the middle of the field. They're not necessarily working out for him, but he's making some good swings, even if he has a few more swing-and-misses than he wants."

Worth noting
• The Brewers have had at least a share of first place every day since April 5, a statistic that will survive this series.

• St. Louis holds a 38-37 edge in the all-time series against Milwaukee in the new Busch Stadium.

• Brewers second baseman Scooter Gennett reaggravated a nagging right quadriceps injury running to first base on a double play in the second inning and exited the game in the sixth. Roenicke said the matter is minor but that Gennett will probably not start the series finale.

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