Brewers-Phillies Preview

BY foxsports • June 4, 2016

It wasn't exactly an offensive explosion, but the Philadelphia Phillies are coming off a productive game at the plate that they desperately needed.

After halting two lengthy losing streaks by defeating Milwaukee's ace, the Phillies can show it was more than just a one-game outburst by beating a pitcher who has surprisingly become the Brewers' second-best starter as they face Junior Guerra on Saturday.

A 4-1 loss in Thursday's series opener was Philadelphia's eighth straight at home to Milwaukee, its longest slide to any opponent since Citizens Bank Park opened in 2004. It was the Phillies' seventh consecutive loss overall, failing to score more than three runs in any game.

They scored that many in two different innings Friday and both came against Jimmy Nelson, the Brewers' leader in virtually every starting pitching category. He was gone after allowing three runs in both the third and fourth, and Philadelphia hung on to win 6-3.

''Anytime we score six runs, it's a big deal around here,'' manager Pete Mackanin said. ''I'm hoping it's going to loosen us up a little bit.''

Cameron Rupp and Andres Blanco went deep to give the Phillies (27-28) their first multihomer performance in 27 home games. It was their first home win over the Brewers (25-31) since June 2, 2013.

"We haven't lost a step," Rupp said. "We still have energy, we still come out playing every night hard."

Philadelphia had just seven hits but made them count for a change, going 4 for 7 with runners in scoring position following a 1-for-25 funk. One of those hits was an RBI single by Maikel Franco, hitting .476 with four homers and 10 RBIs in five games against Milwaukee this year.

None of the Phillies have faced Guerra (3-1, 3.47 ERA), a 31-year-old rookie whose only big-league experience before May was three relief appearances last June with the White Sox.

The Brewers won Guerra's first five starts after he was called up but didn't help him on offense or defense Monday en route to his first major league defeat, 6-0 to St. Louis. The right-hander was charged with four runs - three earned - in 6 1-3 innings with the Cardinals scoring three in the third after a throwing error, a double on a misjudged fly ball in the sun and a passed ball.

''Nothing can be perfect," Guerra said through an interpreter. "It's part of it, you play to win the game. Things aren't going to go perfect all the time.''

It was Guerra's third quality start in four outings, a span in which he has a 2.22 ERA with 27 strikeouts in 24 1-3 innings.

Counterpart Jeremy Hellickson (4-3, 3.68 ERA) also has been solid over his last four, posting an 0.81 WHIP with a 2.00 ERA and 28 strikeouts in 27 innings.

The offense never helps him much - he's had no more than three runs of support through 11 starts - and the bullpen let Hellickson down Monday. He was pulled for a pinch hitter after seven innings and just 79 pitches with a 2-1 lead, but the Phillies lost 4-3 to Washington.

Hellickson won both of his starts against Milwaukee last season while with Arizona, yielding two runs in 12 innings, but the three current Brewers with which he's had the most trouble were on other teams. Kirk Nieuwenhuis has homered twice in three at-bats against Hellickson, Chris Carter is 3 for 5 with a homer and Aaron Hill is 3 for 6.

Carlos Ruiz has been Hellickson's personal catcher but is hitless in 21 at-bats since May 16. Rupp is batting .368 in that same span.

Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy is 12 for 24 in his last seven games. Jonathan Villar is batting .389 in his last 10 after homering in both games of this series.



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