Consistency, enthusiasm needed to end Brewers' slump

NL's leader last year in runs scored now struggles through a second extended drought of the season.

It's becoming quite clear. If the Milwaukee Brewers are going to win games, their offense is going to have to carry the load.

Thursday's 7-1 loss to Pittsburgh dropped the Brewers to 0-16 in games where they scored three runs or fewer. As the only team in baseball yet to win a game of that type, Milwaukee probably isn't going to win too many pitchers' duels.

Somehow, the offense — the same one that led the National League in runs scored last season — is going to have to find a way to not only get better, but to become consistent. Right now all the offense is doing is scuffling.

The Brewers have scored just two runs in their last 25 innings, the second extended offensive drought of the season. Milwaukee has now lost 12 of its last 14 games and 11 of its last 12 against National League Central foes, falling into last place in the division.

"Guys start pressing trying to do a little bit more," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "You can't blame them. That's the nature of it. Offense creates a lot of good emotions. There's a lot of chemistry going on when you score and you get enthusiastic on the bench.

"When you are not scoring runs, it's hard to get motivated as a group. You can individually but we need to grind out some runs and get that good feeling back again that we can score a bunch of runs."

Jonathan Lucroy finally gave the Brewers a clutch hit with a two-out RBI single in the first inning, but they couldn't plate another run in the final eight innings. Travis Snider's two-run home run off Hiram Burgos in the fifth inning put the Pirates up for good at 3-1, though they piled on off Brewers reliever Alfredo Figaro in the sixth.

After going 5-for-15 with runners in scoring position in Monday's series opening win over the Pirates, the Brewers went 2-for-20 in the final three games of the series.

"It makes a big difference," Roenicke said of clutch hitting. "They are getting big hits when they need to. That's why they are outscoring us.

"You get people on base and those good teams drive them in. I know overall our runners in scoring position isn't what we should be. We are going to have to change that."

Sitting at 1-6 on the current 10-game road trip through the National League Central, the Brewers are 9-1/2 games behind the Cardinals for first place. Despite the hole getting deeper by the day, Roenicke hesitated to call this weekend's series in St. Louis one that is critical.

"It's another series that we need to play well in," Roenicke said. "It's two series that we haven't played well in on the road. We know they are a good team and we have to grind it out and somehow get back on the winning track."

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