The Milwaukee Brewers have a chance to reverse a trend Sunday afternoon in the rubber match of their three-game series with the visiting Cincinnati Reds.
The Brewers’ recent lack of success against non-contending teams from their division, the National League Central, has hurt their chances for a postseason spot.
The Brewers (74-66) altered the script for at least one game Saturday with a 5-1 victory over the Reds (56-81), with four pitchers combining for a one-hitter.
With the victory, the Brewers improved to a combined 7-9 against the Reds, Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates in the NL Central since the All-Star break.
“We just haven’t had good, consistent games against these sub-.500 teams,” said Andrew McCutchen, who hit a two-run home run for the Brewers in the eighth inning on Saturday. “They’re games we know we need to win, but we just haven’t been able to do that. You’ve just got to go out and keep grinding.”
The Brewers will start right-hander Brandon Woodruff (9-4, 3.41 ERA) on Sunday. Woodruff is 5-4 with a 3.71 ERA in 13 career games (11 starts) againstCincinnati. He is 1-1 with a 7.20 ERA in two starts against the Reds this season.
Cincinnati will start right-hander Justin Dunn (1-2, 4.82), who has never faced Milwaukee.
The Reds’ only hit on Saturday was Jose Barrero’s double in the third inning against right-hander Adrian Houser, who allowed one run in six innings. After advancing to third on a groundout, Barrero scored on a sacrifice fly.
Houser did not have a strikeout and allowed two walks.
“It takes really great location,” Reds manager David Bell said. “He has good stuff, but he pitched a really good game. When he gave us something to hit, he located it in a spot that we couldn’t do much with it — pulled it foul. We know that’s who he is. He’s a good pitcher and pitched a great game.”
Willy Adames gave Houser early encouragement with a two-run homer in the bottom of the first inning.
The Brewers’ third run came in the seventh inning when Reds outfielder Jake Fraley missed on his dive for Tyrone Taylor’s drive that went for a triple. Christian Yelich followed with an RBI single.
“We’ve got to live with plays like that,” Bell said. “We encourage our guys to make plays, we encourage them to get outs. With that comes a lot of great plays. We take a lot of runners and runs off the board. You’re going to have plays like that at times.”
Bell was ejected in the eighth inning when he argued a strikeout call on Barrero, who had tried to check his swing.
The Brewers put left-hander Eric Lauer (elbow inflammation) on the 15-day injured list Saturday and recalled right-hander Trevor Kelley from Triple-A Nashville.
Lauer was expected to miss his next scheduled start because of the sore elbow but hoped to avoid the IL when an MRI showed no structural problems.
“Nothing happened, and the diagnosis hasn’t changed,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “We’re targeting a start for Eric 11 or 12 days away. … it’s just to protect the guys down there in the bullpen. We thought that going with an extra arm down there and getting Eric a couple of extra days was better served than stringing this along and seeing how he’s doing every day.”
–Field Level Media