The Cincinnati Reds’ play against the lowly Milwaukee Brewers remains a bright spot amid a mediocre start.
The Reds can complete a series sweep by handing the Brewers an eighth straight road defeat Wednesday.
Cincinnati (10-10) has recorded half of its victories in six games against Milwaukee, which at 4-17 is off to the worst start by an NL team since the Chicago Cubs had the same mark in 1997. Baltimore was the last club to open 4-17 in 2010. Both the Cubs and Orioles went 4-18.
”It’s tough to stomach," losing pitcher Kyle Lohse said after Tuesday’s 4-2 defeat. "No one in here is giving up. It would be one thing if you see guys going out there and they don’t care. We care.”
Joey Votto hit his seventh homer, Brandon Phillips added a two-run shot and Marlon Byrd also went deep for the Reds, who have hit half of their 24 homers and averaged 6.5 runs against Milwaukee. They’ve averaged 3.0 runs in the other 14 games.
Votto, who went 0 for 15 in four games prior to recording two hits Tuesday, has three home runs and five RBIs against the Brewers. Byrd went 0 for 10 with four strikeouts in the first three matchups but is 4 for 10 with two homers, four RBIs and one strikeout in the last three.
Byrd, Votto and Phillips are hitting a combined .250 against Milwaukee’s Matt Garza (1-3, 5.16 ERA) with three of their 17 hits leaving the park.
Garza, who went 2-0 with a 0.82 ERA in three starts against the Reds in 2014, was 0-1 with a 5.14 ERA in three at Cincinnati before throwing a two-hitter and striking out nine during a 1-0 victory July 5.
The right-hander is trying to find his form after yielding 28 hits and 11 walks over 22 2-3 innings this season. He gave up three runs, seven hits and walked two in six innings of Friday’s 3-0 loss to St. Louis.
”I made progress, but it’s about time for that progress to kick into results,” Garza said.
Milwaukee has a 5.88 ERA against the Reds – 1.01 higher than its season mark – and has been held to two or fewer runs in half of the meetings.
Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez each hit their second home runs and Adam Lind had the other hit Tuesday for Milwaukee, which dropped eight straight road games Aug. 26-Sept. 3. The Brewers have lost eight of 10 at Cincinnati.
Braun has recorded both home runs, six of his 15 hits and three of his five RBIs against Cincinnati.
The Brewers hope they can spoil the major league debut of right-hander Michael Lorenzen, who will replace the injured Homer Bailey. The hard-throwing, 23-year-old Lorenzen went 2-1 with a 2.84 ERA at Triple-A Louisville.
"We’ve had our sights set on Michael for some time," manager Bryan Price told MLB’s official website. "He came in and threw the ball really well in spring, maybe not statistically, but the ball came out of his hand really well. We think he’s mature and ready to handle this type of challenge."