Sheets, the team leader in wins this season, has won four of his last five decisions, including his last two starts. The 24-year-old right-hander has also been a workhorse this season, ranking third in the majors with 96 2-3 innings pitched.
“I can get on a better roll,” said a confident Sheets after giving up three earned runs and six hits over seven innings in Thursday’s 5-3 win over the New York Mets.
The last-place Brewers, who trail Pittsburgh by one-half game, dropped two of three to the Boston Red Sox over the weekend, including Sunday’s 9-1 home loss.
Eddie Perez drove in the lone run for Milwaukee and Richie Sexson extended his hitting streak to six games. Sexson is batting .304 (7-for-23) with three homers, a double and seven RBIs over that span.
Despite the loss, the Brewers are enjoying their best stretch of the season, having won 12 of 20.
“We’re going to get there,” Brewers manager Ned Yost said. “The bottom line is we’re going to get there. When, I can’t tell you. It just takes time. We’re definitely making progress, and that’s the key.”
The Marlins lost two of three to Anaheim with Sunday’s 8-5 setback, a game in which Florida squandered a 5-1 lead.
Juan Encarnacion hit a three-run homer and drove in four runs for Florida. He has two homers and five RBIs over his last two games.
“If you want to be a winning team, you get a five-run lead and you close it out,” Florida manager Jack McKeon said. “You get five runs and quit, you can’t do it. It was one of those days. We’ve had too many of those days, I’m getting tired of it. We’ve coasted long enough.”
STANDINGS: Marlins - 4th place, 14 1/2 GB, NL East. Brewers - 6th place, 10 GB, NL Central.
MARLINS PROBABLE STARTER: Mark Redman (3-2, 3.28 ERA). Redman hasn’t received a decision in either of his two starts since returning from the DL with a non-displaced fracture of his left thumb on May 30. On Wednesday, the left-hander gave up four earned runs and six hits over a season-low 3 2-3 innings in the Marlins’ 6-5 loss to Oakland. He hasn’t suffered a loss since April 13, a 7-1 home decision to Atlanta, going 2-0 with a 2.98 ERA over his last five starts. Redman is 1-1 with a 2.81 ERA in two career starts against Milwaukee.
BREWERS PROBABLE STARTER: Sheets (6-4, 4.47 ERA). In two career starts against the Marlins, Sheets is 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Marlins - Alex Gonzalez, .333 avg.; Mike Lowell, 18 HRs, 49 RBIs and 40 runs; Juan Pierre, 24 SBs. Brewers - Geoff Jenkins, .272 avg.; Sexson, 19 HRs, 44 RBIs and 46 runs; Eric Young, 16 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Marlins, 3-0.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Marlins - Florida’s current players are batting .372 (16-for-43) with seven RBIs and six doubles against RHP Sheets. However, none have homered off Sheets. … LHP Redman hasn’t allowed a homer in his last six starts, spanning 35 2-3 innings. … In four appearances since returning to the bullpen, LHP Michael Tejera hasn’t allowed a run in 11 1-3 innings. Brewers - RHP Sheets leads the majors in home runs allowed with 18. … CF Scott Podsednik, who has hit safely in nine of his last 10 games, has four triples this season, one more than the rest of the team combined. … The Brewers have been struck out 488 times, second-most in the majors behind Cincinnati (532).
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Marlins - 11-19 on the road; Brewers - 11-21 at home.
INJURIES: Marlins - RHP Josh Beckett (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Toby Borland (appendicitis), 15-day DL; RHP A.J. Burnett (elbow), 60-day DL; OF Abraham Nunez (hamstring), 60-day DL. Brewers - RHP Nick Neugebauer (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Todd Ritchie (shoulder), 15-day DL.