Hot-hitting Arcia leads Brewers against Orioles (Jul 04, 2017)

BY AP • July 3, 2017

MILWAUKEE -- Orlando Arcia's spectacular defensive ability kept him in the Milwaukee Brewers' lineup even though he was still trying to catch up with his bat.

And for the last few months, he has done just that, raising his average from .208 on May 16 to .295 when he's almost certainly inserted into the starting lineup Tuesday as the Milwaukee Brewers continue a three-game interleague series with the Baltimore Orioles at Miller Park.

In his last 41 games, including a 3-for-4 effort Monday against the Orioles, Arcia is batting .367 (55-for-160). He has hits in 16 of his last 19 games and has reached base in 10 straight games.

"It's been startling. It's happened fast," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "This all started because he got really disciplined going the other way. That's where this all started."

Arcia has been making his way into nightly highlight reels with spectacular play at shortstop all season but added another chapter with his legs on Monday, when he managed to score despite over-sliding into third base then getting caught in a rundown between third and home.

"Pretty much every day he does something where you're like, 'Oh my goodness,'" Brewers pitcher Brent Suter said. "And he's hitting the 'schnikeys' out of the ball."

He'll try to keep it going Tuesday against Orioles right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez, who comes into the game off his best start of the season when he held the Blue Jays to two hits and a walk while striking out eight in eight shutout innings.

"(It) feels great. Feels great," Jimenez said. "I wish I could get that feeling every single game, (that) I could find the secret to keep that. But it's a wonderful feeling."

Tuesday will mark Jimenez's fourth start since returning from a monthlong stint in the Orioles' bullpen, where he was moved after going 1-2 with a 7.17 ERA through his first nine starts.

Milwaukee will counter with Jimmy Nelson, who faces Baltimore for the first time in his career.

Nelson tied a career high with 11 strikeouts his last time out, capping a 50-strikeout month -- second most in franchise history.

"That's pretty cool," Nelson said. "But you don't go out there just trying to punch everybody out. It's the result of making quality pitches. I feel like in previous years I was behind in the count more -- 1-0, 2-0, 2-1 -- and I was battling to get back into the count.

"This year, I'm doing a better job of getting ahead, to where I can expand a little more than I was. I've got a better feel and command actually outside of the zone as far as off-speed down and fastball up. It's just a product of getting ahead of guys, really."

Nelson went 3-1 with a 2.88 ERA in six June starts and his 5-2 with a 2.63 ERA in his last 11 outings.

"Jimmy's just pitching well, and he's throwing a lot of strikes," Counsell said. "If you continually get ahead in the count, your strikeouts are going to go up.

"As much as anything, he's set himself up because he's done a notably better job of getting ahead in the count."

Milwaukee will begin the day atop the National League Central, 2 1/2 games ahead of the second-place Chicago Cubs, who were idle Monday and open a three-game series at Tampa on Tuesday.

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