Major League Baseball

Red-hot Reds look to extend Brewers’ skid

mlb9REDS (35-38) AT BREWERS (40-35)
8:10 p.m. ET; FSWI, FS-O, MLB.TV

Red-hot Cincinnati has beaten Milwaukee only twice in six meetings, but in the second game of their four-game series on Friday, the Reds will start a pitcher who has actually beaten the Brewers this season.

Sonny Gray (3-5, 3.77 ERA), who owns a 1-0 record and a 0.75 ERA in two career starts against the Brew Crew, will take the ball first at Milwaukee’s Miller Park.

In 12 innings pitched in those two starts, Gray has fanned 16 and allowed only two runs (one earned).

In his lone start against the Brewers this season — also a road outing — he hurled six scoreless frames, allowing five hits and four walks but striking out nine on May 21.

He notched the win in the 3-0 victory — which until Friday was the team’s only win in five tries against Milwaukee.

Now Cincinnati can’t seem to lose.

The Reds are riding a season-high five-game winning streak, the first time achieving that number since June of last year.

“Over the last week or so, there’s a different level of confidence that we’re playing with,” said manager David Bell after the Reds’ 7-1 rout of Milwaukee on Thursday.

“Guys believe that we can play with anyone. I think a lot of it has to do with the tough competition we play and the tough, close games and realizing what it takes to have that extra little edge to be a really good team.”

Meanwhile, the Brewers are scuffling and slipping further behind the National League Central Division-leading Chicago Cubs.

Thursday’s loss to the Reds cost Milwaukee a full game in the standings, now putting them 1 1/2 games behind the Cubs, who were a 7-4 winner over the New York Mets.

Manager Craig Counsell’s club won just twice during its eight-game road trip, and the Brewers didn’t open the 10-game homestand on a high note against a divisional rival.

Counsell expressed his concern over the outing of starter Jimmy Nelson (0-2) — the right-hander battled command issues all night and his ERA actually dropped from 10.29 to 9.75.

However, Counsell, who credited the showing by Reds starter Tanner Roark, sounded more disappointed by his high-powered offense sputtering its way to just five hits — four of them singles.

The club’s only run scored courtesy of Christian Yelich’s league-best 28th homer leading off the bottom of the fourth.

“Offensively, it was a quiet night,” Counsell admitted. “There wasn’t much there. 1/8Roark 3/8 did a good job against our left-handed hitting — a real good job on our lefties.

“We don’t want to play from behind, but we’re capable of getting good at-bats and swings on the ball no matter what the score is. There were very few innings we did that tonight.”

Counsell will turn to righty Chase Anderson to break the Brewers’ four-game losing streak.

Anderson (3-1, 4.05 ERA) will make his first start against the Reds this season after performing poorly of late, going 0-1 with a 5.79 ERA in three June starts.

He does have a good history against Cincinnati, though, posting a 5-2 mark with a 3.26 ERA in 11 career starts and allowing only 46 hits in 58 innings.

–Field Level Media

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