Brewers-Padres Preview

ANDY LEFKOWITZSTATS Writer

A seven-game losing streak in which the Milwaukee Brewers totaled seven runs continues to be a distant memory.

The suddenly surging Brewers will try to get back to .500 as they seek a two-game sweep of the San Diego Padres on Thursday.

Milwaukee (21-22) was blanked three times and batted .157 during its longest skid of the season. That started on April 30 – also the last time the Brewers reached the break-even mark at 13-13.

Starting with a shutout win over St. Louis on May 7, the numbers have been far different.

With a 5-2 victory Wednesday, the Brewers have won eight of 11 while batting a more robust .276. Casey McGehee has had 14 hits and Rickie Weeks 13 during the surge, but the hottest player may be catcher Jonathan Lucroy.

In his last nine games, Lucroy is hitting .375 with two homers and 10 RBIs, and he didn’t need to get ball out of the infield to make an impact Wednesday. He was hit by a pitch from Ernesto Frieri in the sixth inning, forcing home McGehee and giving the Brewers a 3-2 lead.

Former Padre Mark Kotsay finished with three hits and two RBIs, and Prince Fielder added two hits, scored twice and drove in a run.

“Hitting is contagious and once you usually get that first one, then things kind of fall in place,” Kotsay said.

Ryan Ludwick had a two-run homer, giving him four with 13 RBIs in his last seven games. The Padres are 1-3 against Milwaukee heading into the season series finale.

Last-place San Diego (18-25) had scored three runs while losing its last two games after plating 25 while winning the final three games of a four-game set at Colorado earlier in the week.

“The timely hits are not where we need it to be. Simple as that,” manager Bud Black said.

Looking to put the brakes on a bad stretch, the Padres’ Aaron Harang (5-2, 5.05 ERA) will try to match the win total from each of his last three seasons.

A two-time 16-game winner with Cincinnati, Harang managed only six victories each year between 2008 and 2010 while with the Reds. He began 2011 with his hometown team by winning his first four starts with a 1.88 ERA, but has since gone 1-2 with an 8.46 ERA in four starts.

Harang’s woes could also lie in the Padres’ inability to score in bunches. San Diego backed Harang with six runs in his last four starts, down from 16 in his first four.

San Diego is among the lower-scoring teams in the NL with 162 runs.

Harang got one run of support in a season-low 4 1-3 innings Saturday at Colorado, but he gave up seven along with nine hits and four walks. The Padres bailed him out with eight runs in the final three innings of a 9-7 win.

Harang is 0-2 with a 5.93 ERA in six games, including five starts, against the Brewers after last beating them April 10, 2008.

Chris Narveson (2-3, 4.00) gets the call for Milwaukee, looking to notch wins in back-to-back starts for the first time this season.

The left-hander had been 0-3 with a 6.58 ERA in five starts before facing Pittsburgh on Saturday. Narveson allowed one run and five hits in six innings of Milwaukee’s 8-2 rout.

“I don’t think his record shows really how he’s pitched,” said Brewers manager Ron Roenicke.

Narveson, who has never faced the Padres, is 0-2 with a 4.56 ERA in four road starts this season, and received no run support in his last two such outings.