After a promising start to a nine-game homestand, the Milwaukee Brewers are in the midst of a five-game skid.
The Brewers look to avoid a season-high sixth straight loss as they open a two-game interleague set against the Texas Rangers on Tuesday night at Miller Park.
Milwaukee (14-16) held a 22-12 scoring advantage over Pittsburgh to win the first two on the home stretch, but has been outscored 35-17 while matching a season high with five straight losses.
"We need to stop that downward momentum and turn it over," reliever John Axford told the Brewers' official website.
Losers in eight of 11 since winning nine in a row, the Brewers hope they bottomed out when St. Louis completed a four-game sweep at Miller Park with a 10-1 win Sunday. Twice in that series, Milwaukee gave up six runs in an inning.
"You forget about it," said Sunday's losing pitcher Marco Estrada, who was tagged for eight runs in 3 1-3 innings. "Right now, it's in my head, and I'm sure it's in a lot of guys' heads, that we just got swept in a pretty crucial series. But you try to go out and forget about it. That's the only thing you can do."
One of the few recent Milwaukee bright spots has been star Ryan Braun, who is batting .424 (14 for 33) while hitting safely in eight straight games. He has four doubles and two home runs while going 8 of 27 (.296) with five RBIs in six games versus Texas.
Teammate Wily Peralta (2-2, 6.00 ERA) takes the mound in the opener looking to bounce back after he gave up six runs and 11 hits in 4 1-3 innings of a 6-5 loss to St. Louis on Thursday.
"That's just part of the experience," Peralta said. "Those days, you have to calm down yourself, try to make one pitch at a time. Don't try to go too crazy out there."
This will be his first appearance against the Rangers (20-12), who won two of three at Milwaukee in 2010.
Texas swept Boston at home over the weekend but lost 9-2 to the Chicago Cubs in a rescheduled game Monday. The Rangers, who entered that contest with a major league-best 3.02 ERA and held the Red Sox to four runs and 18 hits, gave up five runs in the fourth inning and 11 hits overall.
Scheduled starter Justin Grimm (2-1, 2.28) has been a big reason for Texas' staff success, but the right-hander allowed a three-run homer to Tyler Flowers in the sixth inning and four walks in a 3-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Thursday.
"He really had good stuff working (Thursday),' Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "Just left one in the wrong spot to Flowers.'
The Rangers were held to five hits Monday, including two in seven innings by ex-teammate Scott Feldman.
Ian Kinsler's 11-game hitting streak was snapped after he went 0 for 4 on Monday. The Texas second baseman is 4 for 27 in his last seven interleague games.
Texas' Lance Berkman is a career .306 hitter against the Brewers, but the 37-year-old designated hitter could also rest during this brief interleague set. He did play in any of the three games at Wrigley Field.
The Associated Press News Service
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