The left-hander will look to bounce back from a poor season debut when the NL Central-leading Reds open a two-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers at Great American Ballpark on Monday night.
Milton, who is 16-24 with a 5.90 ERA in 61 career starts since joining the Reds in 2005, is in the final year of his $25.5 million contract. He’s won eight games each of the last two seasons after winning at least 13 four times with Philadelphia and Minnesota.
Milton (0-1, 6.35 ERA), who started on the disabled list with lower back spasms, allowed four runs and 10 hits in 5 2-3 innings in the Reds’ 6-3 loss to Pittsburgh on April 8.
“He just can’t give in to hitters,” manager Jerry Narron told the Reds’ official Web site. “He’s got to be able to throw his offspeed stuff when he’s behind in the count. It’s no secret.”
Though Milton has not won Aug. 8, he’s had some success against the Brewers, going 4-3 with a 3.93 ERA in eight career starts.
Milton may have a hard time following up teammate Kyle Lohse’s performance in the Reds’ 1-0 win over Chicago on Sunday. Lohse allowed four hits and struck out 12 in eight innings as the Reds (7-5) took two of three from the Cubs and finished 3-3 on their first road trip of 2007.
Cincinnati, which holds a one half-game lead over Milwaukee (6-5) and St. Louis, scored just seven runs in two innings over the weekend. In a 6-5 win Friday, the Reds plated all their runs in the fifth inning off Chicago’s Carlos Zambrano. Cincinnati lost the middle game of the series 7-0 on Saturday.
“For our ballclub to come in and score in two innings and win two out of three, that’s pretty good,” Narron said. “That’s getting it done.”
Reds left fielder Adam Dunn, who is hitting .326 with four homers and eight RBIs, is expected back in the lineup after missing Sunday’s game with back spasms. He’s batting .381 (8-for-21) with three homers and six RBIs at home, where Cincinnati is 4-2 this season.
“I’ll be in there (Monday) for sure,” said Dunn, who had four homers in eight home games versus Milwaukee last year.
The Brewers will look to bounce back after falling 10-2 at St. Louis on Sunday for a split of a weather-abbreviated two-game series. Prince Fielder and Johnny Estrada each drove in runs for the Brewers in the loss.
Chris Capuano (1-0, 4.35 ERA) takes the ball for the Brewers on Monday after having his start pushed back. He isn’t concerned facing the Reds rather than the Cardinals.
“You just switch your mind-set,” Capuano told the Brewers’ official Web site. “I feel good about pitching against their lineup. I like the matchup.”
Capuano has struggled against the Reds, going 1-3 with a 6.30 ERA in five career starts. The left-hander allowed two earned runs in 5 1-3 innings to earn the win in Milwaukee’s 9-4 win over Chicago on April 8.