Preview: Brewers at Phillies

The Milwaukee Brewers and the Philadelphia Phillies have been two of the bigger surprises in the National League this season, but they’re both had tough starts in June.

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The Phillies welcome the Brewers to Citizens Bank Park this weekend for a three-game set. Jhoulys Chacin of the Brewers will face Vince Velasquez and the Phillies in the opener on Friday night.

At 37-25, the Brewers have the best record in the NL, but they’ve lost five of their last seven games and their lead over the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central is down to a half-game.

The Brewers come to Philadelphia after being swept by the Cleveland Indians in a two-game series. Milwaukee scored just three runs in the and is averaging 2.3 runs in its last seven games.

“You play against good teams and you play against good pitching, your margin for error for everybody — pitchers and hitters — you have to capitalize on everything,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell told mlb.com after Wednesday’s loss in Cleveland. “We might have had more hits than them in both games, but they bunched their hits together a little bit better.”

Meanwhile, the Phillies are coming home after a 3-7 road trip. Philadelphia (32-28) has lost five of its last six games and has drifted three games behind the Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves for the top spot in the NL East.

The Phillies are 13-19 on the road this season but 19-9 at home.

“This was not our best road trip, obviously, but we proved we could go toe to toe with the best teams in the National League,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler told reporters after a 4-3 loss to the Cubs on Thursday. “That felt like a playoff atmosphere out there, and I think our guys fought until the very end.

“The way we played against the Cubs, although we didn’t come out on the winning end of the series, I thought we played our butts off in a lot of ways.”

Philadelphia will turn to Velasquez (4-6, 3.82 ERA), who was sharp in his last outing. He struck out nine and gave up one run and five hits in 6 1/3 innings against the San Francisco Giants last Saturday.

Velasquez picked up a loss as the Phillies failed to give him any run support, but it marked the sixth straight start the hard-throwing right-hander allowed three runs or less. Velasquez, who turned 26 on Thursday, has a 2.14 ERA and a 12.0 K/9 rate in his last six starts.

Velasquez has faced the Brewers just once in his career. He allowed two runs and four hits in 4 1/3 innings on June 3, 2016.

Chacin will be facing the Phillies for the ninth time in his career. The 30-year-old right-hander has historically held the Phillies in check and carries a 2.13 ERA and 0.969 WHIP in those outings.

Chacin threw 5 2/3 scoreless innings against the Chicago White Sox in his last start and has given up two earned runs or less in five of his last six games.

Friday’s meeting will be the first between the teams this season. They split six games in 2017.