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WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUND-UP: Brewers look to even series with Rays

TAMPA BAY - The Milwaukee Brewers will try to even their Interleague series at Tampa Bay tonight.  

The Brew Crew will try to get its offense rolling again, after scoring just one run in their last 18 innings against the Rays and the New York Mets.  Milwaukee remains atop the National League Central by a game-and-a-half over Saint Louis and two games over Pittsburgh.  Tampa Bay remains four-and-a-half back for the final American League Wild Card, after beating the Crew 2-1 last evening.  Tonight, Tampa starter Alex Cobb will try to win his fifth straight decision since June 29th.  The right-hander is 6-6 overall with a 3.76 ERA.  Brewers' starter Matt Garza will also try to go above .500 this evening.  The former Ray is 7-7 with a 3.87 ERA.  The right-handed Garza held the Mets to just two hits and a run in eight innings last Thursday night.  Milwaukee has 68 quality starts this season, in which their hurlers have gone at least six innings and given up three earned runs or less.  Only Atlanta has more quality starts in the NL with 74.


With the Major League trading deadline just two days away, the rumors involving the Milwaukee Brewers continue to heat up.  This morning, said the Brewers are among the playoff contenders interested in picking up Jon Lester.  The Red Sox left-hander is 10-7 with an ERA of just over 2.50.  However, there's virtually no chance the team that gets him now would sign him into next year, since Lester becomes a free agent this winter.  Also, reports say the Red Sox want Milwaukee's top pitching prospect Jimmy Nelson -- which could be too high of a price for what would most likely be a three-month "rental."  Speaking of price, the buzz continues about the possibility of Milwaukee trading for Tampa Bay starter Mark Price, who's signed through next year.  However, the trade talks might be fading -- since the Rays have gotten hot this month, and they're only four-and-a-half back for the final American League Wild Card.  Tampa edged Milwaukee 2-1 last night, and the two teams will play again this evening in Saint Petersburg.  Alex Cobb will start for the Rays against Milwaukee's Matt Garza.


Teams in the Northwoods League have about a dozen games left in their regular seasons -- and the Lakeshore Chinooks are running away with the second-half crown in the South Division.  The Chinooks of Mequon are 20-3 with a five-game division edge over Wisconsin and Kenosha. The Chinooks won their tenth straight game last night, while racking up a team-record total for single-game runs with 18, which beat Mankato by 13.  Lakeshore plays at Mankato again tonight.  Elsewhere, the Madison Mallards are in Wausau to face the Wisconsin Woodchucks.  Eau Claire is at Duluth.  Kenosha hosts La Crosse. And Green Bay is at Battle Creek.  Waterloo and Willmar still share the North Division lead by a half-game over Eau Claire and Saint Cloud.


The Class-"A" Midwest League returns to divisional play tonight.  The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers will host Western Division-leading Kane County in the opener of a series near Appleton.  The Rattlers are coming off a 6-to-4 loss at Fort Wayne last night.  The Beloit Snappers open a home set against Peoria.  Beloit split a double-header near Cleveland yesterday.  Lake County edged the Snappers 9-8 in the opener, and Beloit came back to take the nightcap 6-4.


Julius Peppers says he faces a laundry list of new challenges as he enters his 13th NFL season.  It's his first with the Green Bay Packers.  That means getting used to a base 3-4 defense that will have him rushing the quarterback from a standing position at outside linebacker -- instead of a three-point stance on the line.  He'll drop back too, and the 34-year-old Peppers says the defensive variety is partially why he chose the Packers after Chicago released him to help meet the Bears' salary cap.  However, Peppers says his main goal is to win a Super Bowl -- which would follow in the footsteps of one of the last great Packer free agent acquisitions, Charles Woodson who's now back with Oakland.  The 6-7 Peppers is an imposing prescence to the offensive linemen who face him at practice, so far from different ends of the field.  Guard T.J. Lang says Peppers' physical stature should be intimidating enough for an offense.  The Packer players are off today after three straight days of Training Camp practices.  They'll return to Ray Nitschke Field tomorrow morning.


Green Bay Packers' coach Mike McCarthy says he'd like to find some type of non-playing role on the team for Johnathan Franklin.  He suffered a career-ending neck injury during his rookie season a year ago.  Franklin has returned to Green Bay -- and after today's padded practice, McCarthy called the UCLA product as "as fine of a man" as he's seen during his eight-plus seasons as the Packers' head coach.  McCarthy said he thought the Packers showed good energy during their first fully-padded practice at Training Camp.  The coach also said he's not worried that guard T.J. Lang will miss any real time.  Lang expects to return to practice in a few days, after he developed a sore shoulder sometime after the team's mini-camp in mid-June.  Lang said there was nothing in particular that caused the problem, but it's been building on him the past couple years.  He says the pain is similar to tendinitis.  The Packers ended three straight days of workouts this morning.  They won't practice tomorrow.


Now that Jordy Nelson is locked up, Randall Cobb appears to be the next to get a long-term deal from the Green Bay Packers.  The two wide-outs were thought to be at the top of general manager Ted Thompson's list of those to be re-upped with Green Bay.  Nelson signed a four-year, $39-million contract extension during the weekend.  Cobb said he thought he'd be next -- but he's not sure if he's done enough to win a new deal right now.  Cobb says he loves Green Bay, but he knows it's a business.  The fourth-year is in the final year of his rookie deal.  He says he's trying to avoid thoughts about his contract as much as possible, especially after Cobb missed 10 games last year with a leg injury.  Other Green Bay un-restricted free agents after this season are corner Tramon Williams, tackle Bryan Bulaga, and nose tackle B.J. Raji.  This morning, the Packers practiced in full pads for the first time at Training Camp.


You are what you eat -- and the Packers have hired a nutrition specialist to help the players be the best they can be.  The team announced yesterday that Adam Korzun will be Green Bay's first "director of performance nutrition."  Packers' Head Coach Mike McCarthy gave a teaser to reporters on Friday.  He said he would bring in a young man to "impact" the team and keep trying to get better.  Korzun is no rookie when it comes to sports nutrition.  He's been a consultant for the Cleveland Indians and Cavaliers, and has worked with the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association.  For the past two years, Korzun was the director of sports nutrition at the University of Oregon.


Two University of Wisconsin football players are among ten "players to watch" as listed by the Big Ten Conferencetoday .  A panel of league media members singled out Badgers' running back Melvin Gordon and right-tackle Rob Havenstein among five standouts listed for the league's new West Division.  The others are defensive end Randy Gregory and rusher Ameer Abdullah of Nebraska, and offensive lineman Brandon Scherff of Iowa.  The five East Division "players to watch" as listed by the Big Ten are Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller, Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg, Michigan State defensive lineman Shilique Calhoun, and receivers Devin Funchess of Michigan and Stefon Diggs of Maryland.  Maryland joins the Big Ten for the first time this fall.


Tyler Thornton -- a point guard at Duke for the past four seasons -- will join his former assistant coach Steve Wojciechowski at Marquette University.  The new Golden Eagles head coach tweeted that Thornton will join his staff, but Wojo is not sure where he'll fit in.  Thornton is expected to serve as a graduate assistant.  He averaged three points, two assists, and two rebounds in 18 minutes a game for Duke from 2010 through this past spring. 


Steve Stricker of Madison remains at No. 20 in the new World Golf Rankings released this morning.  Jerry Kelly of Madison dropped three places to 109th, after he tied for 66th at the RBC Canadian Open.  Pewaukee native Mark Wilson missed the cut at Royal Montreal, and he dropped 23 spots in the World Rankings to 376th.  Adam Scott remains the leader.  Rory McIlroy is second, and Henrik Stenson third.


Wisconsin will have two golfers in the Western Amateur Championship in Chicago.  Defending champion Jordan Niebrugge of Mequon tops the 156-player field, along with Charlie Danielson of Osceola.  The 115-year-old Western is the nation's top amateur tournament.  Its champions, including Niebrugge, have won 15 of the last 20 U.S. Amateur crowns.  The Western will open with two rounds of stroke play tomorrow and Wednesday.  The lowest 44, plus ties, will play 36 holes of stroke play on Thursday to determine the 16 finalists who will compete in match play on Friday and Saturday.