With time running out, Brewers hope to solve woes vs. Reds (Sep 28, 2017)

MILWAUKEE — Time is running out for the Milwaukee Brewers and their quest to reach the postseason for the first time since 2011.

The Brewers’ playoff chances took a big hit Wednesday night.

The Chicago Cubs (89-69) clinched the National League Central with a victory over the Cardinals in St. Louis, and the Colorado Rockies (86-73) trounced the Miami Marlins to maintain their hold on the second NL wild card.

Meanwhile, Milwaukee (83-75) mustered only four hits in a 6-0 loss to the Cincinnati Reds, and the Brewers slipped to 2 1/2 games behind the Rockies.

Now, Milwaukee’s only hope is to win out, starting Thursday when they wrap up their three-game series with the Reds at Miller Park.

The Brewers must hope the Rockies will drop at least two games against the Dodgers this weekend. Colorado is idle Thursday before hosting Los Angeles.

“We’ve got to win,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “There’s a challenge in front of us, but we have an opportunity. Their job and our job is to win baseball games. We certainly understand that they have to lose a game somewhere along the line for us to have a chance, but we’ll just try to keep playing good baseball and understand that we have a chance at this thing.”

The Brewers likely will be without Eric Thames on Thursday. The first baseman had to leave the Wednesday game when he fouled a pitch off his right foot in the eighth inning. He was diagnosed with a contusion.

“I’m going to ice again when I go home, and we’ll see how the swelling is,” Thames said. “Tomorrow is another story.”

Thames has had an up-and-down season but has thrived against Reds pitching, batting .345 (19-for-55) with 10 of his team-leading 31 home runs.

The Brewers, 3-7 in their past 10 meetings with the Reds, hopes Brent Suter (3-2, 3.29 ERA) can shut down an offense that has given them fits this season, especially Joey Votto.

Votto hit his 36th homer Wednesday and is batting .345 (19-for-55) with six homers and 11 RBIs vs. the Brewers.

Suter faced the Reds on Aug. 12 in Milwaukee, when he allowed five runs and four hits in five innings during a no-decision. He also tossed a scoreless inning in relief at Cincinnati on Sept. 6.

In six career appearances against the Reds, Suter is 1-0 with a 4.35 ERA.

The Reds turn to rookie Sal Romano (5-7, 4.43 ERA), who is trying to finish the season on a high note as he looks to solidify a spot in the rotation for next season.

“I don’t really want to think about that, that’s the front office and Bryan and Mack’s decision,” Romano said of earning a spot, referring to manager Bryan Price and pitching coach Mack Jenkins. “I know I’ve shown a lot of improvement since I first got back up here. I think for myself, I know I’m ready to have an everyday role every five days up here. I’ll be confident and be ready to help the team out next year.”

Romano is 3-2 with a 2.95 ERA over his past seven starts. However, he lasted only four innings his latest outing, allowing five runs on five hits and four walks while striking out three in a 5-4 loss to Boston on Friday.

The right-hander has faced Milwaukee twice this season, allowing 10 runs (eight earned) on 11 hits and five walks while striking out eight in eight innings.