Two standout pitchers set to join forces for the National League in the All-Star Game next week will duel as rivals Thursday night when Corbin Burnes and the Milwaukee Brewers open a four-game series against Carlos Rodon and the host San Francisco Giants.

Despite having lost three of their past four games and five of seven, the Brewers will take the field as the first-place team in the NL Central. Meanwhile, the Giants enter the series currently out of playoff position, sitting in third in the NL West.

Both clubs are coming off walk-offs on Wednesday. The Giants posted a 4-3 win over the visiting Arizona Diamondbacks on a Brandon Crawford single a couple of hours after the host Minnesota Twins got a three-run homer from Jose Miranda to beat the Brewers 4-1.

The win was the Giants’ second straight after five home losses in a row.

“We’ve done a pretty good job of not worrying too much about the losses, especially the tough, close losses that we’ve had recently,” Crawford noted. “The worrying is mostly (the media) and the fans. We know we can win some games and we have a good ballclub. We’re not worried.”

Burnes (7-4, 2.20 ERA) has faced the Giants 10 times in his career but just three times as a starter, going 2-1 with a 2.92 ERA.

The right-hander will make his second career start in San Francisco, having beaten the Giants 3-1 last August with six innings of one-run, four-hit ball.

The second-time All-Star is unbeaten in his last five starts, going 4-0 with a 1.60 ERA. He’s twice thrown seven shutout innings during the run, including his most recent start Wednesday against the Chicago Cubs, when he gave up just three hits and struck out 10.

Burnes had a similar experience when he went 6 2/3 scoreless innings at home against the Giants in April, striking out 11 while allowing just two hits. But the Giants got to the Milwaukee bullpen late for a 4-2 win.

The teams were meeting that day in a game shoehorned into the schedule to help make up for a series lost in the delayed start to the season. The clubs are scheduled for two more meetings in Milwaukee in September.

Rodon (8-5, 2.70) initially was denied a chance to join Burnes next week for the All-Star Game in Los Angeles when the NL’s starting pitchers were announced. But Brewers closer Josh Hader, who blew Wednesday’s save, turned down his invitation due to a family matter, opening the door for Rodon to make his second straight All-Star Game appearance.

Coincidentally, Hader’s teammate, set-up man Devin Williams, has insisted he should have been the replacement choice. Williams pitched a shutout inning Wednesday in Minnesota, lowering his ERA to 1.82 to go with a 2-0 record.

“I deserve to be there,” Williams said. “I would like to be there. But that’s just out of my hands. There’s really nothing I can do about it.”

Rodon’s most recent outing was a 12-strikeout performance in a 3-1 road win over the San Diego Padres on Saturday. The left-hander has gone 4-1 with a 1.80 ERA in eight starts since June 1.

The 29-year-old hasn’t beaten the Brewers in two career starts, going 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA. He last faced them a year ago for the Chicago White Sox, taking the loss in a 6-1 defeat when he lasted just four innings, giving up four runs (two earned).

–Field Level Media