Mired deep in the NL Central cellar, the Milwaukee Brewers haven't had too much to get excited about in the first half of this season.
Wily Peralta's recent performances are a pleasant exception.
In his team's final game before the All-Star break, the right-hander will seek to extend a considerable scoreless streak and help the Brewers avoid their first four-game sweep to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday.
Milwaukee will enter the break no closer than 4 1/2 games behind the fourth-place Chicago Cubs in the Central after enduring its 13th loss in 18 games Saturday. The Brewers (37-56) blew a three-run lead in a 5-4 defeat to Arizona, their franchise-worst sixth straight in the series.
Didi Gregorius, meanwhile, helped the Diamondbacks (50-44) maintain their 2 1/2-game lead in the NL West and reach 50 wins before the All-Star break for the first time since 2003. The shortstop hit one of the team's three solo homers and drove in the tying run in the seventh inning.
"I see this every day," Gregorius said. "We never back down. We fight hard. We never give up."
Peralta (6-9, 4.82 ERA) will try to end his team's four-game skid and send Arizona to just its fourth loss in 12 contests by adding to his scoreless streak of 15 1-3 innings.
The right-hander has kept opponents off the scoreboard in three of his last four outings, going 2-1 with a 1.03 ERA. His latest performance, a 2-0 win over Cincinnati on Tuesday, was the best in his fledgling career.
Peralta tossed a three-hitter with a career high-tying six strikeouts for the Brewers' first complete game since April 5, 2011, a span of 407 games that the team said was the longest drought in major league history.
"If you watched him move around, he was confident," manager Ron Roenicke told the team's website. "You can see it in his body language. I think that in the long run, a game like that can carry him a long way."
In his first appearance against Arizona, Peralta will try to maintain that confidence while pitching opposite Ian Kennedy (3-5, 5.31).
The Arizona right-hander is 0-2 with a 6.48 ERA in his last six starts but has allowed two runs or fewer in three of those games. His latest start Tuesday wasn't one of those solid efforts as he gave up six runs and nine hits over 5 2-3 innings in a 6-1 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Diamondbacks have hardly helped Kennedy, the owner of a combined 36 wins the past two seasons, by giving him a combined nine runs of support during his winless stretch.
Kennedy did not receive a decision in his only matchup with the Brewers this season. He allowed four runs over six innings in an 8-7 win in 11 innings April 7 and had a chance at a victory until the Arizona bullpen gave up two runs in the ninth.
It's unknown if the Brewers will activate Ryan Braun off the bereavement list in time for this game. He's already missed the required three contests and can sit out no more than seven in a row.
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