After handling the NL Central's top team, the Cincinnati Reds take aim at halting the progress of another playoff contender.
The visiting Reds will look for a fourth consecutive win Friday night against a Milwaukee Brewers team that's trying for a third straight victory.Cincinnati (70-77) dropped eight of 10 before taking the final three of a four-game set with first-place St. Louis."We created an environment where we play the spoiler," Reds manager Bryan Price said after Thursday's 1-0 victory over the Cardinals.Though the Reds' current role is one they'd rather not play, they'll again attempt to make the best of a disappointing situation while facing a Milwaukee club that's 1 1/2 games out of the final wild-card spot.The Brewers (76-71) lost 16 of 19 before winning the final two of a four-game set with Miami. Their 4-2 victory Thursday, however, was overshadowed by Marlins star Giancarlo Stanton being driven off the field in an ambulance after he was hit in the face by a Mike Fiers pitch.Milwaukee managed to prevail despite that incident and the benches clearing after Fiers hit Reed Johnson with his next pitch.The Brewers now must focus on Cincinnati, which managed six runs while being swept in a three-game series at Miller Park in July.In the opener of that set July 21, Cincinnati's Mat Latos (5-5, 3.25 ERA) allowed five runs in seven innings of a 5-2 defeat that dropped him to 0-4 with a 3.66 ERA in six starts at Milwaukee.Prior to that outing, the right-hander yielded two runs and six hits over 14 innings while going 1-0 in his first two against the Brewers this season -- one of which came at Miller Park.After allowing five runs and 10 hits in five innings of a 5-4 loss at Baltimore on Sept. 2, Latos gave up three unearned runs in six innings of a 4-3 defeat to the New York Mets on Sunday.Ryan Braun is 4 for 24 against Latos, but he homered Thursday in his return to the lineup after a thumb injury kept him from starting the previous two contests.Braun went 5 for 12 with a home run and four RBIs in the July home sweep of the Reds.Teammates Carlos Gomez and Jean Segura are a combined 19 for 45 with three home runs versus Latos.Milwaukee's Kyle Lohse (12-9, 3.85) has allowed 12 runs and 13 hits in 9 2/3 innings while losing two straight starts. He yielded seven runs over 36 2/3 innings to go 2-1 in five home outings prior to allowing five in four innings of a 5-3 loss there to St. Louis on Saturday."He's a 'feel' guy, and he's lost his feel right now," Milwaukee catcher Jonathan Lucroy said.Lohse, though, gave up a run in 6 2/3 innings of a 5-1 home win July 23 to improve to 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA in three starts against the Reds this season.Billy Hamilton is 2 for 5 with a homer against Lohse.Though Cincinnati's speedy leadoff hitter is 3 for 27 with nine strikeouts and no stolen bases in the last nine games, he's gone 10 for 25 and hit half of his six home runs in six contests at Miller Park this year.
The Reds are hitting .214 this season in at-bats ending on pitches to the outer-third of the zone or farther outside, the third-worst rate in MLB. Kyle Lohse has thrown the highest percentage of pitches in that zone this season among qualified pitchers (58.5 percent).