A week ago, the Milwaukee Brewers were the hottest team in baseball. Now, they have the longest active losing streak in the NL.
Milwaukee (25-15) won 10 of 11 games to claim baseball’s best record on May 9, but has lost a season-high four straight, including the first three games of this series. Dating to last year, the Brewers have lost four straight to the Phillies (20-20), their longest losing streak against them since a seven-game skid between 2004 and 2005.
“They’ve been through this a little bit before,” manager Ned Yost told the team’s official Web site. “They’ve been through losing streaks, but not when the expectations are there and they’ve accomplished what they’ve accomplished. You get a little tense and go through a losing streak, and you have to keep your head above water.”
Sheets (3-2, 4.10 ERA) will try to continue a run of strong outings when he takes the mound. He has four quality starts in his last five games, with the only exception being his April 25 outing, which was cut short by a groin injury after three scoreless innings. Since April 20, he is 2-0 with a 2.86 ERA in four starts.
The right-hander allowed three runs over six innings against the New York Mets on Saturday in a 12-3 victory, earning Milwaukee’s only win of this seven-game road trip.
Sheets is 1-3 with 4.98 ERA in six career starts against Philadelphia.
The Brewers have never been swept in a four-game series against the Phillies, and they haven’t lost more than four games in a row since a 10-game losing streak Aug. 25-Sept. 3.
Milwaukee is batting just .172 while being outscored 27-12 during its four-game skid. The Brewers were shut down by Cole Hamels as they managed only two hits in a 6-2 loss on Wednesday.
Hamels took a perfect game into the seventh inning and Aaron Rowand hit a three-run homer as the Phillies won for the sixth time in their last seven games at home. Rowand is batting .340 this year.
After a slow start, the Phillies have come on strong with a 16-9 record since April 21. Philadelphia is at .500 for the first time this season and has pulled within 5 1/2 games of the first-place Mets.
“That’s the first thing we needed to do,” manager Charlie Manuel said. “Now we need to win one to get over .500 and we’ve got to ease back into the division (race).”
Chase Utley went 2-for-4 on Wednesday to extend his home hitting streak to 13 games. He has hit safely in 17 of 19 games at Citizens Bank Park, where he is a .411 hitter this year.
Freddy Garcia (1-2, 5.17) will start against Milwaukee for only the second time in his nine-year career. The right-hander limited the Brewers to three runs in 7 2-3 innings with Seattle on June 15, 2004 in a 3-0 loss.
Garcia yielded three runs and eight hits in six innings on Saturday, failing to factor in the decision in Philadelphia’s 11-7 win over the Chicago Cubs. It marked the first time in three home starts he lasted past the fifth inning.