As long as the Cincinnati Reds don’t have to turn the game over to their bullpen, they should be in good shape.
The Reds look to avoid a three-game losing streak and hope for better results from their relievers as they face the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park on Monday.
The game opens a seven-game road trip for Cincinnati (44-38), which lost the final two games of its intrastate series with Cleveland over the weekend, the last one in heartbreaking fashion.
Dave Weathers, who was the Reds closer for much of the year, allowed a tiebreaking, two-run homer to former Red Aaron Boone in the eighth inning as the Indians won 6-3.
The Reds bullpen has allowed 42 homers this season, the highest total in the majors, and Cincinnati relievers had a 5.24 ERA entering Sunday’s contest, the worst in the NL and ahead of only Kansas City (5.27) in the majors.
Aaron Harang (9-5, 3.45 ERA) looks to ease the burden on the bullpen as he looks for his third straight victory for the Reds on Monday. The 6-foot-7 right-hander threw a seven-hitter against Cleveland on June 23, then allowed one run in seven innings in a 7-2 win over Kansas City on Wednesday.
“He’s been overshadowed by Bronson (Arroyo),” first baseman Scott Hatteberg said of Harang. “Bronson has been phenomenal, but Harang has been right there on his heels.”
Harang and Arroyo have combined to go 18-9 this season, one reason the Reds are one game behind front-running St. Louis in the NL Central.
Harang, who is 4-2 with a 4.61 ERA in nine career starts against Milwaukee, will make his third start against the Brewers this season. He tossed a five-hitter in Cincinnati’s 11-0 rout on April 23, but didn’t receive a decision in the Reds’ 6-5 loss on June 12.
The Brewers (40-43) have lost four of their past five games and were swept in a three-game series by the Minnesota Twins over the weekend. Milwaukee managed just three hits in an 8-0 loss on Sunday, completing a 10-game road trip with a 4-6 record.
Dave Bush (5-6, 4.45) looks to win consecutive decisions for the first time this season when he starts for the Brewers on Monday. The right-hander has allowed only five runs over his last three starts, a span of 22 innings, but hasn’t received a decision in two of those outings.
He gave up one run in 6 2-3 innings on Wednesday against the Cubs, who rallied for a 6-3 victory with five runs in the eighth.
The bullpen’s been solid for us all year,” Bush said after the game. “I think it was just an aberration today.”
Bush has had mixed results in his two starts against the Reds, both this season. He threw a four-hit shutout in Milwaukee’s 11-0 win on April 22, but was tagged for seven runs and seven hits in four innings of a 15-5 loss on May 22.