Having baseball's best home record didn't mean much to the Milwaukee Brewers as they dropped their series opener against the Tampa Bay Rays. They should feel pretty confident it'll be more helpful Tuesday night.
The Brewers will try to avoid losing consecutive home games for the first time all season as Zack Greinke looks to bounce back from perhaps his worst start of 2011.Milwaukee (40-34) dropped three of four to the Cubs and two of three to Boston last week on the road, but sought to get back on track upon returning to Miller Park.The Rays (40-33) made sure that wouldn't be the case, though Brewers slugger Ryan Braun sitting out with a respiratory infection certainly helped. Tampa Bay broke open a one-run game by scoring four times in the seventh, then added Evan Longoria's three-run homer in the eighth en route to an 8-4 victory."They're tough to beat at home," said Longoria, who had two hits and four RBIs after going 2 for 24 without driving in a run over the past week. "To get Game 1 out of the way and get a win is a big momentum boost being here and moving forward."The Brewers' loss was just their fourth in 19 games at Miller Park and dropped them to 25-10 there overall -- and also one-half game behind St. Louis for the NL Central lead."I think we're going to turn it around real soon," catcher Jonathan Lucroy said. "We've had a tough little stretch here."Milwaukee has responded after every loss at Miller Park, outscoring its opponents 41-17 while becoming the majors' only team without back-to-back home defeats.Braun is expected to play Tuesday, but regardless of his status, the Brewers need Greinke (6-2, 5.23 ERA) to be better than he was Thursday against the Cubs. The right-hander, who had turned in four consecutive quality starts, gave up eight runs over 5 1/3 innings with the wind blowing out at Wrigley Field en route to a 12-7 loss.Greinke's six-game winning streak may be over, but he's still 4-0 with 42 strikeouts over 31 innings in five starts at home.Greinke is 1/3 with a 3.27 ERA in four starts against the Rays since 2008, but he's had his way with a few of their best hitters. Longoria is 2 for 13 against Greinke, Ben Zobrist is 3 for 14 with six strikeouts and Casey Kotchman -- who's hitting .455 thus far in interleague play -- is 0 for 11 off him.Opposing Greinke will be Jeremy Hellickson (7-5, 3.09), who has seen his typically stellar run support disappear over his last two starts. After getting an average of 7.53 runs of support in his first 11 starts, Tampa Bay has been shut out the last two times he's taken the hill.Hellickson surrendered five runs over 5 2/3 innings June 10 in a 7-0 loss at Baltimore, but was much better Wednesday against Boston. The right-hander gave up three runs over seven innings while being outdueled by Josh Beckett in a 3-0 loss, but certainly impressed his manager."I'm real happy with what Jeremy did," Joe Maddon said. "He did everything right. All that kind of stuff makes you feel good about his future."This will be Hellickson's interleague debut.