MILWAUKEE — Kyle Lohse’s turnaround this season has made the pitcher into a coveted arm going into the final week before the trade deadline.
Friday’s performance further bolstered his soaring stock.
Lohse limited the Marlins to five hits in six innings in the Brewers’ 2-0 victory over Miami, striking out five and moving to 6-7 this year. It was the fourth straight outing Lohse went at least six innings, having done so in nine of 10 games since falling to 1-6 on the season.
“It felt good to get the second half started this way,” Lohse said. “It was very humid out there. Sometimes when it gets like that it gets tough to grip the ball with sweat dripping down your arm. I didn’t throw as many changeups as I probably would have because I couldn’t get the grip. Everything else was working so I didn’t need it.”
The Marlins were able to tag a few balls that were caught at the warning track by Carlos Gomez, but Lohse’s command was impressive, throwing 69 strikes in 105 pitches and not walking anyone.
“I go out there trying to pound the zone and trying not to walk guys,” Lohse said. “That’s what I do, whatever part of the season it is, I don’t change my approach.”
Manager Ron Roenicke described Lohse’s outing as outstanding.
“He got away with some pitches in the first inning. He made some mistakes and they flew out deep to center,” Roenicke said. “From then on, the command got really good. He threw some great fastballs in spots and the slider was outstanding. He’s been the pitcher that’s been able to go deep into a game and throw up a lot of zeroes.”
Offense was hard to come by on the muggy night and consisted of two solo blasts in the fourth and fifth innings. Juan Francisco opened the scoring with an opposite-field home run to left followed by Carlos Gomez’ 428-foot rocket that curled around the left-field foul pole.
Milwaukee’s bullpen continued to be a bright spot, as it has been all year. Roenicke used John Axford in the seventh, Jim Henderson in the eighth and Francisco Rodriguez in the ninth to complete the shutout.
It was the second time the Brewers held an opponent scoreless this month and the sixth time all season. Milwaukee will need plenty more as it works its way back to .500 on the year.
Braun Healing: Ryan Braun made his return after missing the Arizona series prior to the All-Star break due to a family medical emergency, going 0-3 with two popouts and a strikeout before being replaced in the seventh per Roenicke’s wishes. Braun had just come back from a stint on the DL before taking bereavement leave and is still working his way back into game shape.
“He’s better,” Roenicke said of Braun’s injured hand before the game. “It’s not gone but he’s better. Hopefully he can swing the way he wants to. We talked on how we need to break him in because he really hasn’t played in a long time. He’s not back to where he should be.”
Ramirez update: Aramis Ramirez’ 15-day DL stint is set to expire on Monday, but Roenicke isn’t positive that Ramirez will be able to play by then.
“I’m not sure if he’ll be ready on Monday or not,” Roenicke said. “The trainers are going to look at him so we’ll see where he is. But he told me he’s going to be smart this time and he’s not going to go out there and play regardless. I don’t know if that means Monday or not.”
Ramirez originally sprained his left knee during spring training and did so again in mid-April, which put him on the DL for a month. He played through pain early on and hadn’t looked like himself all year, batting .271 with five home runs and 26 RBI. When the condition worsened, he headed to the DL again.
“We were careful with him last time, but he wants to play,” Roenicke said. “He doesn’t like sitting out and he knows how much we need him out there. It was hard for him to not perform well, but you certainly respect him, a player that will go out there when he’s not 100 percent knowing that he can help the team win even if he has some pain.”
Estrada on track: After a few hiccups in his rehab from a strained left hamstring, pitcher Marco Estrada may be back on track to a full recovery. The back soreness that had flared up during his rehab has subsided, according to Roenicke, and the hamstring is also good to go.
However, don’t expect to see Estrada any time soon. His first of three rehab starts is slated for a week and a half from now if his bullpen session this weekend and batting practice session three days after that go well.
“The way it’s mapped out, we’re still looking a couple weeks into August,” Roenicke said. “We have him planned for three rehab starts then (we’ll) see how it goes, but if everything goes well, we’re still a week and a half out from him going out on a rehab stint.
“Now we’re just basically starting him like we would in spring training.”