The Milwaukee Brewers may have a tough time remaining atop the NL Central this weekend.
The Brewers keep trying to overcome their struggles on the road, and against the Cincinnati Reds, when the teams continue a three-game series on Saturday at Great American Ball Park.
A day after moving into a tie with the Chicago Cubs atop the division, Milwaukee (71-69) was routed 11-4 by the Reds (64-77) in Friday’s opener. The Brewers gave up 10 runs in the first three innings, starter Dave Bush failed to get an out in the second inning and manager Ned Yost was ejected in the third.
Milwaukee, which was coming off a 5-1 homestand, remained tied for first after Chicago also lost, 6-1 to Pittsburgh. Both teams are one game ahead of St. Louis.
The Brewers kicked off a stretch Friday in which they play 13 of 16 games on the road. They are 26-43 there this season with losses in seven of their last eight road games.
Milwaukee has lost five of seven games at Cincinnati this season and is 3-7 overall against the Reds, who have totaled 18 runs and 27 hits over the last two games. Josh Hamilton went 4-for-5 with a homer and two RBIs Friday as Cincinnati won at home for the eighth time in 10 contests.
Ken Griffey Jr. hit his 593rd homer and finished with three RBIs. His two-run shot gave him 30 home runs in a season for the ninth time in his career.
Griffey is hitting .480 (12-for-25) with five homers and two doubles lifetime versus Jeff Suppan (9-11, 4.75 ERA), who will take the mound for Milwaukee trying to build on his first win since June 22. The right-hander snapped a 12-start winless streak on Sunday when he allowed four runs—two earned—and nine hits over five innings in a 7-4 victory over Pittsburgh.
He didn’t issue a walk and struck out four, throwing 66 of his 89 pitches for strikes.
“He’s had three or four opportunities that we lost for him,” Yost said. “But it was good for him to get a ‘W.’ Now we don’t have to talk about that.”
Despite the victory, Suppan has lasted seven innings only once in his past 17 starts. He has gone 0-5 with a 6.57 ERA and a .327 opponent batting average in his last nine road starts, but has a 2.66 run support average during that stretch.
Suppan hasn’t won away from home since a 9-5 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on May 21. He is 2-2 with a 6.45 ERA in nine career starts versus the Reds with both of those losses coming this season.
Aaron Harang (14-4, 3.68) tries to bounce back from one of his worst outings of 2007 when he takes the ball for Cincinnati. He gave up six runs and 10 hits, both tying season highs, over 5 2-3 innings in a 10-4 defeat to the New York Mets on Monday.
“I can’t be perfect all the time,” said Harang, who had won his previous four decisions. “The ball just carried today.”
The shaky outing followed one of Harang’s best when he pitched a two-hitter and struck out eight in an 8-0 win over Pittsburgh on Aug. 29.
The 6-foot-7 right-hander is 4-3 with a 4.75 ERA in 13 career starts versus the Brewers. He has not received a decision in two starts against them this season after very different performances. Harang yielded one hit over a career-high 10 innings on July 23 and allowed six runs over 6 2-3 innings on Aug. 19.
Milwaukee center fielder Bill Hall is hitting .417 (15-for-36) with three homers, a triple and four doubles lifetime versus Harang.