PHOENIX -- Arizona's road to the 2011 World Series will begin in Milwaukee on Saturday.
The D-backs' 7-5 loss to Los Angeles on Wednesday night had nothing to do with their much-anticipated playoff destination. Instead, it was a Brewers victory that meant Arizona would open the postseason on the road and a Braves loss that solidified Milwaukee as the location.
Game 1 between the D-backs -- who finished the regular season at 94-68 -- and the Brewers is set for Saturday with the time still to be determined. Manager Kirk Gibson acknowledged "it's pretty safe to say" Cy Young candidate Ian Kennedy will get the ball.
"I'll try to treat it like any other game, to be honest," Kennedy said of his preparation for his first career playoff start. "I know there's going to be a little more adrenaline when I'm out there, but normally there's not going to be much different in preparation. I feel like what I did in the regular season should be all right."
Kennedy's opponent Saturday will be Milwaukee's Yovani Gallardo, who finished the season 17-10 with a 3.52 ERA. He won his two starts against the D-backs, both in July, allowing just two earned runs in 13 innings.
But the D-backs took the overall season series four games to three. They split at Chase Field and won two of three in Milwaukee -- despite the Brewers' 57 home wins, which were tops in baseball.
To Gibson, however, none of those stats matter any more.
"Everything that's happened, just throw it out the window," he said. "This is a new series."
Gibson, whose team will head to Milwaukee on Thursday afternoon and work out Friday, feels the two teams are very similar, noting the aggressiveness, the pop in the middle of the order and the deep pitching staffs.
To the Arizona pitchers, stopping Milwaukee's big sluggers -- Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun -- will be the key to the series.
"Braun and Fielder as their three and four [hitters] -- that's a 1-2 punch," said Kennedy, who shut out the Brewers for seven innings on July 21. "That's the key to any lineup. Keep those guys from scoring those runs."
Said Joe Saunders: "They've got two great hitters in the middle of the lineup, so we're going to have to do our best to nullify those guys."
Saunders' six innings Wednesday means he'll probably pitch Game 3 on Tuesday. That leaves Daniel Hudson as the D-backs' likely Game 2 starter.
Milwaukee jumped out to a big early lead against the Pirates on Wednesday night, meaning by the time Arizona's game had started, the Brewers had pretty much wrapped up home-field advantage in the first round. When Milwaukee's 7-3 win went final, the D-backs' game no longer had any bearing on the playoff picture.
At that point, Arizona was already guaranteed to play its two weekend Division Series games on the road, but the only question was where, and Atlanta's 13-inning loss to Philadelphia soon resolved that.
The D-backs enter the playoffs as the No. 3 seed facing No. 2 Milwaukee, while the No. 1-seeded Phillies will play the Cardinals, who clinched the Wild Card.
"There's no play-in games tomorrow, so we're not going to be in the air and then make a U-turn somewhere tomorrow afternoon," Saunders kidded. "So for us, we're excited to play Milwaukee."
But before first pitch Saturday, Gibson has some decisions to make in terms of his 25-man roster. He said Geoff Blum will have a spot on his bench, and assuming he takes Sean Burroughs, that leaves 11 spots open for pitchers.
"We have a lot to do," Gibson said. "But at least we know what the next step is."
Gibson will be matching wits with Brewers skipper Ron Roenicke, also in his first season as manager.
"This is what it's all about," Roenicke said. "You talk about playing meaningful games in September so you can get to October, and once you get into October it's really fun to see who's going to be that guy who steps up and likes that moment where it's on him. You see it every year -- somebody steps up that you don't think is going to. Those are special times."
D-backs catcher Miguel Montero noted the momentum both teams carry into the playoffs -- each having won five of six.
As for that philosophy of splitting on the road and winning at home, Montero wasn't having any of it. Instead, he offered his own strategy.
"We'll try to steal two," he said.
AJ Cassavell is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.