The only win the Milwaukee Brewers have this month came via Matt Garza’s gem. They might need another one Thursday with the way their lineup is struggling.
Still with the NL’s best record despite an awful stretch, the Brewers now could reach a new low point. They haven’t been swept in a series of more than two games all season but could be dealt a four-game sweep by the last-place Philadelphia Phillies, who had traveled to Miller Park amid a big slump of their own.
Milwaukee (52-40) has lost four straight and eight of nine, with the only victory coming Saturday when Garza fired a two-hitter in a 1-0 victory at Cincinnati.
If Garza’s hot stretch doesn’t continue – he’s 4-1 with a 2.36 ERA in his last seven starts – the Brewers could suffer a season-high fifth consecutive loss. That would only further damage their confidence going into a weekend series against division rival St. Louis, the defending Central champion which is now within two games of Milwaukee.
"We’re just in a funk right now," manager Ron Roenicke said after his club was held to three hits in Wednesday’s 4-1 loss. "I don’t know how to put it any other way than just the mistakes we miss, they are not missing."
Philadelphia (40-51) is at the bottom of the East but has won the first three games of this set after losing nine of 10.
"Winning is the cure-all of cure-alls," said Jonathan Papelbon, who has saved all three games.
The Brewers are 4 for 22 with runners in scoring position in the series and have hit .195 overall in their last nine games while averaging 2.7 runs. Jean Segura is in a 4-for-37 funk, Khris Davis is in a 1-for-14 slump and All-Star Carlos Gomez hasn’t scored or driven in a run in six straight games.
"Don’t panic, every good team does this so it’s just a matter of making sure we’re getting good at-bats," first baseman Lyle Overbay said.
Maybe getting Ryan Braun back can provide a spark. He’s missed the last two games and three of four with back trouble, though Roenicke was hopeful Braun would return Thursday.
Garza (6-5, 3.78 ERA) can’t be blamed for the club’s woes. He’s averaged 1.21 walks per nine innings over his last five outings, compared to 3.52 through his first 13. He tied a season high with nine strikeouts Saturday in his first complete game since Aug. 3.
"He’s thrown the ball really well for the fourth, fifth game in a row," Roenicke said. "I’m hoping that this being the best of them will get him back in a groove where he reels off a couple of months of great ballgames."
Garza’s had plenty against the Phillies, going 2-1 with a 1.77 ERA in six starts.
Philadelphia’s regular 2-3-4 hitters – Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard – are 4 for 37 against him. Howard has gone 0 for 10 with five strikeouts versus Garza, and he enters in a 4-for-44 slump and homerless in 20 straight games.
Rollins, though, ended an 0-for-20 drought with a two-run homer in the sixth inning Wednesday. Utley hit his second homer of the series, during which he’s 6 for 11 with six RBIs.
The Phillies will start David Buchanan (4-5, 4.82), who has allowed no more than three runs in five consecutive outings but has lost his last two.
The rookie right-hander gave up three runs in six innings of a 3-2 loss at Pittsburgh on Saturday. However, the only walk he surrendered was intentional after issuing nine unintentional walks in his previous two games.