Cardinals serve as visitors for another home opener, in Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE — After opening the season with a three-game sweep of the Padres in San Diego, the Milwaukee Brewers kick off the home portion of their 2018 schedule Monday afternoon against the St. Louis Cardinals at Miller Park.

Right-hander Zach Davies gets the nod for Milwaukee, marking his first start of the season. He led the team with 17 victories a year ago despite battling command early and a 5.82 ERA when pitching at home.

Milwaukee’s offense bailed Davies out during his early struggles and if the first three games are any indication, he shouldn’t have to worry about run support.

Outfielders Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich, the Brewers’ marquee offseason acquisitions, combined to go 15-for-28 in the opening series with four doubles, two walks, six RBIs and seven runs scored.

“It’s nice to get off to a good start with three wins, especially on the road,” Yelich said. “We won in all different ways. We had an extra-inning game. (Saturday) night, we came from behind. (Sunday) was a pretty solid effort from top to bottom.

“That’s what good teams do. They find ways to win every night. You’re not going to win the same way every night. Hopefully, that’s a story line for our season.”

Milwaukee hasn’t started a season with three straight victories since 2006, when the Brewers opened with a five-game winning streak.

“We played a good series,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “That’s why we won three games. The first game, we probably caught a break at some point. We had a great comeback (Saturday). I thought (Sunday) was a win where we pitched well and hit the ball well. So it was a good series.”

Cain, Yelich and the Brewers will try to keep the momentum going against right-hander Miles Mikolas, who’s making his first big-league start since August 2014.

Mikolas spent the last three seasons pitching in Japan, where he compiled a 31-13 record and 2.18 ERA. St. Louis signed the 29-year-old to a two-year, $15.5 million contract in December. He went 1-2 with a 4.76 ERA in six spring appearances, wrapping up his exhibition slate with three scoreless innings against the Toronto Blue Jays on March 29.

“You can’t deny the success that he had in Japan, and I’m hoping that he just stays with his strengths because this isn’t Japan,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “But hitters are hitters, and he was able to get some good hitters out over there and we know that that plays here.

“So he’s got to trust himself and just keep making pitches. I’m kind of excited to watch how he can make that transition over here, but the stuff looks good.”

Like the Brewers, the Cardinals also traded for a Marlins outfielder to bolster what was a disappointing offense a year ago. St. Louis acquired Marcell Ozuna from Miami after an attempt to land Giancarlo Stanton fell through.

After going hitless in his first two games, both St. Louis losses, Ozuna finished with three hits Sunday in the Cardinals’ 5-1 victory over the New York Mets.

St. Louis had won the season series between the two teams for seven straight years before dropping 11 of 19 meetings a year ago. But the Cardinals were 5-4 at Miller Park, where they are 33-14 since the start of the 2012 season.

The Cardinals also were the visiting team for the Mets’ home opener last week.

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