Cincinnati (44-46) at Milwaukee (48-42)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Milwaukee, WI
Temp: 57° F
  • Game info: 7:10 pm EDT Sat Jul 9, 2011
  • TV: FSOH, FSWI
Preview | Box Score | Recap

After a rough beginning to this stretch without Ryan Braun(notes), the Milwaukee Brewers are back on track.

That doesn’t mean they don’t want their All-Star left fielder back in the lineup.

The Brewers host the Cincinnati Reds as they look for a fourth straight win Saturday night, and Braun could return after missing the last six games.

Braun strained his left calf last Saturday in an 8-7 win at Minnesota. The Brewers (48-42) lost their first three without him, including their first back-to-back home losses of 2011.

Milwaukee has recovered with three straight wins to improve the majors’ best home record to 32-13. Manager Ron Roenicke hoped that Braun would be available to pinch-hit Friday, but the slugger rested another day.

“It seems to be going longer than we thought,” Roenicke told the Brewers’ official website. “He’s still shooting for hopefully playing a game Saturday or Sunday.”

The Brewers entered this four-game set with a 2-7 mark against the Reds (44-46) before a pair of thrilling one-run wins to start it. Closer John Axford(notes) pitched in and out of trouble in the ninth inning of Thursday’s 5-4 victory and Milwaukee scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth Friday to beat Francisco Cordero(notes) in an 8-7 win.

Mark Kotsay(notes), who homered earlier, capped Friday’s rally with a two-run single with two outs as Milwaukee moved back into sole possession of the NL Central lead.

“We have good character here,” Kotsay said. “We talk about it a lot - we play the game to the final out. That’s what the manager expects, what the fans expect, and that’s what we’re here to do. I don’t know if every club has that demeanor.”

Cincinnati, the defending division champion, fell two games under .500 for the first time since April 27, 2010. The Reds have lost six of eight.

“It’s a devastating loss,” Cordero said. “We’re chasing the Brewers and the Pirates and St. Louis. We could’ve been a game closer, but now we’re a game further back.”

All-Stars Joey Votto(notes) and Jay Bruce(notes) each homered and had two hits. Votto is hitting .368 with four homers and nine RBIs against the Brewers this year while Bruce is batting .318 with four homers and 11 RBIs.

The Reds will turn to Johnny Cueto(notes) (5-3, 1.77 ERA), who pitched an eight-inning complete game in Monday’s 1-0 loss at St. Louis. Cueto is 0-2 in three career starts at Miller Park, allowing eight runs in 1 1-3 innings of a 13-1 loss in his last outing there Sept. 22.

Prince Fielder(notes) is 7 for 20 with three doubles and two home runs against Cueto and Corey Hart(notes) is 6 for 21 with three homers.

The Brewers have lost the last four starts by Shaun Marcum(notes) (7-3, 3.32) and seven of his last eight. Marcum is 1-2 with a 4.83 ERA over his last eight, and 0-1 with a 7.20 ERA in the last four while dealing with a hip problem.

The right-hander hit a grand slam Monday but yielded four runs over six innings and did not receive a decision in an 8-6 loss to Arizona.

Marcum is 0-1 with a 3.86 ERA in two starts against the Reds this year. Votto was 3 for 6 against him in those games while Brandon Phillips(notes) went 0 for 6.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Cueto Cin vs. S. Marcum Cle
9-5 Record 13-7
2.31 ERA 3.54
104 K 158
47 BB 57
1.09 WHIP 1.16

Scoreboard

Saturday, Jul 9