Winning a series at Miller Park for the first time in 16 months isn't likely to be easy for the Cincinnati Reds.
That's because they must face red-hot Milwaukee Brewers starter Yovani Gollardo, who will try to slow the Reds' push for a playoff spot Sunday.
After dropping three of four, including a 5-1 loss to open this three-game set, Cincinnati (84-65) bounced back with a 7-3 victory Saturday. That helped the Reds stay close in a three-team battle for the NL Central while maintaining their advantage over surging Washington for the second wild-card spot.
"Every game, from my perspective, it's as important in April as it is in September," said Joey Votto, who hit his 23rd home run. "But, we've got a pretty good idea of what's happening around you. You have an idea of who's behind you and who's ahead of you, how many games you need to make up."
Cincinnati had dropped eight of 11 at Miller Park, where its last series win was May 7-9, 2012.
Despite Saturday's outburst, the Reds have scored 3.3 runs per game - a run lower than their season average - in their last 11. Those struggles could continue against Gallardo (11-9, 4.18 ERA), who looks to win a season-best fourth consecutive decision.
Since returning in mid-August from a stint on the disabled list because of a hamstring injury, the right-hander has returned to the form that helped him win a combined 33 games from 2011-12. Gallardo is 3-0 with a 1.35 ERA over his last five starts, limiting opponents to a .198 average.
"I've been feeling good," Gallardo said. "That's the main thing and to be consistent. The year hasn't gone the way I wanted it to, but coming off the DL kind of refreshes the mental side and you can go out there and just pitch."
Gallardo pitched the Brewers (64-83) to a pair of victories over Cincinnati upon his return from injury, allowing two earned runs in 12 1-3 innings. He's 3-1 with a 1.84 ERA in his last five outings against the Reds.
Votto and Shin-Soo Choo went a combined 4 for 6 with two home runs and six RBIs Saturday, but they're 0 for 18 when facing Gallardo this season.
Cincinnati counters with right-hander Bronson Arroyo (13-11, 3.58), who has received just five runs of support over a three-start winless drought.
The Reds, however, have won all three of his starts against the Brewers this season as he's gone 2-0 with a 2.11 ERA. None of those games came in Milwaukee, where he's 5-3 with a 2.80 ERA in 11 career starts.
Rookie Scooter Gennett, 9 for 21 in his last six games, has gone 3 for 6 with a home run against Arroyo. Carlos Gomez is 3 for 19 lifetime in this matchup, but he's 5 for 7 with six RBIs in this series.
Milwaukee's Aramis Ramirez hasn't played since getting hit on the left wrist by a pitch Friday, though he might be able to return for this contest.
The Brewers have a chance to win their first home series since sweeping Miami from July 19-21.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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