The Milwaukee Brewers might not be ready to give up the NL Central lead just yet.
They’ll try to regain sole possession of first place in the division Tuesday when they continue a three-game series with the NL West-leading Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field.
The Brewers (64-61) moved back into a tie with the Chicago Cubs for first place Monday with a 9-0 win over Arizona (71-55). Before falling percentage points behind Chicago on Aug. 1, they had been in first place since April 21.
Milwaukee, which won for just the fourth time in 14 games Monday, was coming off a 1-5 homestand. The team opened a nine-game road trip that concludes next week with three games at Wrigley Field against the Cubs, who play at San Francisco on Tuesday night.
Prince Fielder, who leads the NL with 39 homers, connected for the second straight game and drove in four runs Monday. Bill Hall and starter Yovani Gallardo also homered for Milwaukee, which scored three runs in each of the first two innings.
“I think that’s the key for us,” Fielder said. “When we score early it helps the whole team.”
The Brewers have totaled 23 runs and 32 hits, including nine homers, in their last three games.
Arizona, meanwhile, lost for just the seventh time in 28 games and has dropped consecutive games for only the second time over that span. The Diamondbacks, whose NL West lead shrank to 3 1/2 games over second-place San Diego, have been outscored 69-16 in their last seven losses.
“We’ve played a few of these this year so what are you going to do,” manager Bob Melvin said of Monday’s lopsided loss.
The Diamondbacks have dropped five of their last six games against the Brewers.
Now, they will hand the ball to Livan Hernandez (9-7, 4.86 ERA), who is trying to win four straight starts for the first time since May 21-June 5, 2006. He gave up four runs in seven innings of Thursday’s 5-4 win in Florida.
The veteran right-hander gave up three runs in the first inning while battling a case of nausea, but vomited before the second and settled down the rest of the way.
“(He) kept us in the game, (and) got better, it seemed like as the game went along,” Melvin told the Diamondbacks’ official Web site. “That’s one of the reasons I stay with him as long as I do. You get to him early, he settles down and as the game goes along, he gets better.”
Hernandez has allowed 27 homers in 25 starts this season, including five in his last two outings.
He is 7-4 with a 3.51 ERA in 17 career starts against the Brewers, but gave up six runs in 5 1-3 innings in a 10-1 road loss on July 19 in his only outing against them this season. The loss was his first in nine starts versus Milwaukee since 2000 and ended his five-decision winning streak against the team.
The Brewers counter with Dave Bush (9-9, 5.01), who gave up three runs in seven innings of Thursday’s 8-0 loss to St. Louis. He’s received only eight runs of support over his last five starts, going 0-2 with a 5.83 ERA.
Though Bush won in relief on July 31, his last victory as a starter came in a 4-3 home win over Arizona on July 16 as he gave up three runs—all on solo homers—in six innings. Bush has won each of his previous three starts versus the Diamondbacks, posting a 3.72 ERA.