While the Toronto Blue Jays' slide continues, the Milwaukee Brewers are working to again find some NL Central breathing room.
The clubs meet Tuesday night at Miller Park with the Blue Jays in need of some competent pitching to end a discouraging August and the Brewers chasing a fifth straight victory.
Milwaukee (70-55) returns home after sweeping three games against the Los Angeles Dodgers to conclude a 5-2 road stretch during which the staff posted a 2.21 ERA to cover for the lineup's .214 average.
Jonathan Lucroy went 2 for 5 with a home run and five RBIs in Sunday's 7-2 win, while Carlos Gomez homered for a second straight game. Ryan Braun, though, is 2 for 20 over five games and is also batting just .237 in 14 interleague contests this season.
Mike Fiers has been a big part of the pitching success since entering the rotation for the injured Matt Garza on Aug. 9. After allowing three hits in six scoreless innings while striking out a career-high 14 in Thursday's 6-2 win over the Chicago Cubs, Fiers is 2-0 with a 0.64 ERA in two starts.
With Triple-A Nashville, Fiers went 8-5 with 129 strikeouts in 102 1-3 innings over 17 starts, so the numbers aren't all that surprising to him as he tries to re-establish himself with the big league club.
"I feel like I've been pitching like this all year," Fiers told MLB's official website. "I kind of got my confidence back from last year, probably in winter ball. Coming into spring training, I felt good. I just took off from there. Yeah, I got sent to Triple-A, but it didn't kill my confidence sending me down. I just had to wait for my opportunity and do it now."
He's also been successful in two starts and two relief appearances against the AL, going 1-0 with a 0.49 ERA and .143 opponents' batting average over 18 1-3 innings.
The Blue Jays (64-61) are a major league-worst 4-11 in August. Their eight-game trip is off to a 1-5 start after being swept in Seattle and losing two of three to the Chicago White Sox. Their starting pitching hasn't given them much of a chance, posting a 7.92 ERA after Drew Hutchison allowed six first-inning runs in Sunday's 7-5 loss to the White Sox.
J.A. Happ (8-7, 4.20), winless in his last four outings, will try to end a two-start losing streak. The left-hander shouldered most of the damage in Tuesday's 6-3 loss in Seattle, yielding five runs - four earned - and seven hits in six innings.
"The results weren't there, so that's obviously frustrating, every game is big, but you can't get too down on this," Happ said. "I felt good, I felt like I was making pitches."
His last interleague start came against the Brewers in a 7-4 loss July 2. The 31-year-old allowed four runs and six hits in seven innings and wasn't stuck with the decision.
Three starts against the NL this season have resulted in a 1-1 record and 6.19 ERA. His track record against the Brewers is nearly as bad: 3-3 with a 5.82 ERA in 10 games.
Braun is 8 for 26 with three home runs against Happ and Rickie Weeks is 8 for 17 with two homers, but Mark Reynolds is 0 for 16 with eight strikeouts.
Offensively, the Blue Jays came around against the White Sox. Their first 12 games of the month produced 30 runs, but they managed 16 with a .306 average against Chicago.
Jose Reyes has a nine-game hitting streak and is batting .418 in his last 12.
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