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News » Brewers-Reds Preview 2009-05-07

Brewers-Reds Preview 2009-05-07

Brewers-Reds Preview 2009-05-07
After a slow start to the season, the Milwaukee Brewers are finally starting to resemble last season's NL wild card team.

The Brewers look to build off their biggest offensive outburst of the season and win their fifth in a row as they wrap up a two-game series against the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday night.

Cincinnati (14-13) has been led by its stellar pitching this season, but Bronson Arroyo never got out of the second inning in Wednesday's 15-3 loss to Milwaukee (16-12).

Ryan Braun hit his second career grand slam, J.J. Hardy had a three-run homer and the Brewers jumped out to a 9-0 lead after two innings. In the ninth, Prince Fielder added a two-run homer off Reds shortstop Paul Janish, who moved to the mound, as Milwaukee finished with season highs in runs and hits (20).

"Nights like this are fun, kind of few and far-between," said Braun, who had three hits and a career-high six RBIs. "So you have to enjoy them when they come."

Braun missed a pair of games over the weekend with a sore back but appears healthy for the Brewers, who have won four straight games and 12 of 15 after opening the season 4-9.

Since its turnaround on April 22, Milwaukee, which made the playoffs last season for the first time since 1982, is third in the majors in runs (83) and tied with Philadelphia for second in home runs (19).

Braun is batting .394 (13-for-33) with two home runs, four doubles and nine RBIs in his last seven games at Great American Ball Park and is 3 for 6 with a homer and a double lifetime versus Thursday's scheduled starter Micah Owings (1-3, 4.84 ERA).

Milwaukee's Braden Looper (2-1, 3.10) looks to help the Brewers win five in a row for the first time since Sept. 21-26 when he takes the mound Thursday.

On Saturday against Arizona, Looper retired the first 12 batters he faced before allowing three runs in the fifth. The right-hander ended up yielding four runs, six hits and no walks in seven innings of a 4-1 loss - his first defeat with the Brewers.

Looper earned his first win with Milwaukee on April 15, giving up three runs and six hits in six innings of a 9-3 victory over Cincinnati. He is 4-1 with a 2.57 ERA in seven starts versus the Reds since 2007.

Owings opposed Looper on April 15, allowing four runs and five hits in five innings in the loss at Milwaukee, falling to 0-3 with a 7.71 ERA in three career starts versus the Brewers.

Milwaukee's Mike Cameron homered twice off Owings three weeks ago and is 4 for 9 with two homers, a triple and a double against him in his career.

On Saturday, Owings gave up five runs - four in the first - and nine hits in 5 2-3 innings of an 8-6 loss to Pittsburgh.

The right-hander is trying to shake his early inning struggles that have plagued him all season. Opponents are batting .400 against him the first time through the lineup, compared to .161 the second time through.

"We just have to figure out how to get Micah out of those early innings," Reds manager Dusty Baker told the team's official Web site. "Once he gets past the first and second inning, he's usually locked until at least the middle part of the game."

Cincinnati, which has lost seven of 12, got home runs from Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce on Wednesday, but both could have trouble getting on base Thursday.

Phillips, who is 12 for 33 (.364) with four homers and 12 RBIs in his last eight games, is 1 for 14 lifetime versus Looper, while Bruce is 1 for 13 with six strikeouts against him.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: May 7, 2009

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