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WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUND-UP: Brewers begin series with Giants this evening

MILWAUKEE - The Milwaukee Brewers will try to get their offense revved up again tonight, when they open a three-game series against San Francisco at Miller Park.  

The Brewers are hanging onto a one-game lead over Saint Louis in the National League Central Division, after losing two-of-three to the Cardinals over the weekend.  Milwaukee has had problems bringing home runners on second-and-third, hitting just .196 in that circumstance over its last seven games.  Tonight's starter for the Crew -- Jimmy Nelson -- has only three total runs of support in his last three appearances, two of which were losses.  Both Milwaukee and San Francisco are 61-51.  The Giants are second in the NL West, a game-and-a-half behind the LA Dodgers.

The Milwaukee Brewers hope to take advantage of a struggling Tim Lincecum tonight.  The Giants' ace lost two of his last three starts, with an ERA of close to nine in those outings.  The right-hander Lincecum is coming off a no-decision against Pittsburgh last Wednesday in which he gave up five runs in three-and-a-third innings.  Still, Lincecum is 2-and-0 in his last three starts against the Brewers.  He's 9-and-7 overall this year, with a 4.21 ERA.  Young right-hander Jimmy Nelson will go for Milwaukee.  His start was pushed back a day due to a blister in his middle throwing finger.  Nelson is 1-2 with a 4.30 ERA.  He has dropped his last two decisions, but the Milwaukee offense has only give him three total runs of support in his last three starts. 


Yovani Gallardo will be the first to tell you that it's been an up-and-down season for him.  And that's not good for a pitcher who's in his contract year.  Gallardo is 6-5 with a 3.38 ERA.  Those are not exactly stirring numbers to make himself attractive to other teams in free agency, or to the Brewers who could keep him by paying a $13-million dollar club option for 2015.  Gallardo says he'll worry about all that after the season.  For now, he wants to keep a recent hot streak going.  The veteran right-hander threw 14-and-two-thirds scoreless innings in his last two outings against the New York Mets and Tampa Bay.  In his two starts before that, Gallardo gave up nine runs in eleven-and-a-third frames against Saint Louis and Washington.  From 2009-2012, Gallardo won 61-percent of his decisions, becoming the only Brewer to strike out at least 200 batters in each of those four consecutive campaigns.  Last year, Gallardo was hit hard by the death of his mother, a strained hamstring, and a drunk driving conviction.  He still managed to go 12-10 that year.  


In the Midwest League, the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers will go for their second straight victory at Cedar Rapids tonight.  The Rattlers edged the Kernels 4-3 last evening.  The Timber Rattlers will take on a Kernels' lineup that includes star first baseman Joe Mauer and starter Ricky Nolasco from the Minnesota Twins.  Both are on rehab assignments.  Mauer has been on the Twins' disabled list since July second with an oblique injury.  Nolasco will be on a limited pitch-count as he recovers from a sore arm that's kept him sidelined since July seventh.  Mauer says he might get some at-bats as the designated hitter tonight, they play some first base the next night as he gradually gets used to playing nine innings again.  Wisconsin is going for its second straight victory, after edging Cedar Rapids 4-to-3 last evening.  Joe Mauer's brother Jake manages the Kernels. Meanwhile, the Beloit Snappers will play at Clinton again, on the heels of a 9-8 Snappers' win.  


Tyler Marincov of the Beloit Snappers has been named the position player of the week in the Class-"A" Midwest League.  Taylor Williams of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers is the league's honored pitcher.  Marincov, an outfielder, is in his first full pro season after the Oakland A's drafted him in the eighth round last year.  He went 12-for-30 at the plate last week with three homers, four doubles, and seven RBI's.  Going into last night's play, Marincov was tied for second in the Midwest League with 28 doubles on the year.  Williams allowed just one hit in seven innings in his only appearance for the Timber Rattlers last week, while striking out a career-high 11.  Overall, Williams has held Midwest League hitters to a .201 batting average -- and just .190 since the league's All-Star break.  


Teams in the Northwoods League are off tonight, while their top players show their skills to Major League scouts.  The second annual "Big League Dreams Showcase" begins late this afternoon at Warner Park in Madison.  Dozens of prospects will play in a pair of games -- after they take part in a series of workouts for the big league recruiters.  Wisconsin's eight Northwoods teams will have a total of 42 players in tonight's event.  Ten of them are from the Eau Claire Express, six are from the Lakeshore Chinooks, and five are from Madison -- including All-Star Game MVP Pete Alonzo of the Mallards.  A panel of Major League scouts chose the participants.  Team play resumes tomorrow night.


Practice was scheduled to resume at noon for the Green Bay Packers.  It's the second of three sessions open to fans this week.  The team will not practice on Thursday.  A closed workout is set for Friday, before the Packers play their first exhibition game on Saturday night at Tennessee. Coach Mike McCarthy expects to see a more experienced group of quarterbacks than he did in last year's pre-season -- when back-ups Vince Young, Graham Harrell, and B.J. Coleman led just two touchdown drives in their four exhibitions, and were cut after that. This year, backup Matt Flynn is sailing through his fifth camp at Green Bay -- and McCarthy says ex-Badger Scott Tolzien is playing "quicker" and has improved his footwork and delivery at camp.  Those QB's, along with Aaron Rodgers, have been getting lots of work at camp -- as well as fourth-stringer Chase Rettig from Boston College.


Three UW-Whitewater football players have been named to the pre-season All-American first team from  Receiver Jake Kumerow, guard Lucas Skibba, and corner Brady Grayvold -- all seniors -- represent the defending national champion Warhawks on the top squad. Four other Wisconsin players made D3's All-American second team -- junior tight end Joe Sommers from UW-Oshkosh, senior corner Rob Austin of Platteville, and senior linebackers Jacob Zilbar of Platteville and Luke Bakkum of Stout.


The University of Wisconsin men's basketball team will open against Alabama-Birmingham in their opening game of the "Battle-4-Atlantis" Thanksgiving weekend tournament in the Bahamas.  Pairings were announced today.  Wisconsin faces UAB the night of November 26th -- Thanksgiving Eve -- and will then play either Georgetown or Florida in its second contest.  In the other first round games, Butler takes on North Carolina -- and Oklahoma plays UCLA.  Twelve games will take place in the three-day tournament at the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island. 


The Marquette University men will play Georgia Tech on Thanksgiving night at the Orlando Classic holiday tournament.  It will be the last of four games among the eight invited teams.  Santa Clara will face Tennessee in the opening contest.  Kansas will then go against Rhode Island, and Michigan State plays Rider.  The title game will be played November 30th, along with games for third, fifth, and seventh place.