Brewers-Padres Preview

NOEY KUPCHAN (STATS Writer)
The Associated Press

Clinging to the NL Central lead, the Milwaukee Brewers held on for a much-needed win last time out.

They'll try to make it two in a row Monday night as they open a crucial nine-game road trip against a San Diego Padres team that is undefeated at home this month.

Milwaukee (72-58) had allowed 27 runs during a three-game losing streak before bouncing back with Sunday's 4-3 win over Pittsburgh. Aramis Ramirez went 3 for 4 with an RBI and Mike Fiers combined with two relievers on a four-hitter.

"It was a big win. It's a big win because of these guys and it's a big win heading into the road trip," manager Ron Roenicke told MLB's official website. "We've done that a lot. We've had some bad stretches, then all of a sudden, we finish with a nice game to give us some momentum going into wherever we're going."

The Brewers head west sitting 1 1/2 games ahead of St. Louis after the Cardinals lost Sunday.

"I think we've dealt with adversity well this season," said Ryan Braun, who is batting .333 with four homers and 10 RBIs in his last six games at Petco Park. "It is such a long year that inevitably you are going to deal with ups and downs as a team. We've done a really good job of just turning the page."

The Brewers have the NL's second-best road record at 36-27, but the Padres are a major league-best 15-4 at home since June 29. They've won all six games at Petco this month by a combined 30-13 score.

Milwaukee's Kyle Lohse (11-7, 3.49 ERA) is set to get back on the hill after missing one start due to a lingering sore ankle. The right-hander aggravated the injury and exited after yielding four runs over three innings in a 4-2 road loss to the Chicago Cubs on Aug. 13, dropping to 0-3 with a 6.63 ERA in his last four starts.

"I was able to throw everything that I needed to," Lohse said after Friday's successful bullpen session. "I'm back to pretty much normal. I was able to get the push and balance that I needed that I wasn't able to get (before). I was just adjusting pitch to pitch, compensating with my upper body. It's all good."

Lohse is looking to win a fourth consecutive start against the Padres after holding them to two runs - one earned - over seven innings in a 5-2 victory April 23. He is 5-1 with a 2.13 ERA against San Diego since 2010.

The Padres counter with Eric Stults (6-13, 4.53), who's won three consecutive decisions behind a 1.46 ERA. The left-hander allowed one run over five innings in Wednesday's 4-1 victory at Dodger Stadium.

Stults has yielded three earned runs or fewer in all but one of his last 11 appearances.

"He never gives in. He's not afraid to throw any pitch in any count," Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis said. "I'm impressed with the way he controls his tempo. He used to be maximum effort every pitch. Now he's free and easy, so he can reach back when he wants to throw a fastball. He's pitching with a lot of confidence."

Stults' success shouldn't come as much of a surprise to Brewers outfielder Gerardo Parra, who is 3 for 24 in their matchups.

This marks Stults' first start against Milwaukee.

The Padres (60-69) return to San Diego after closing a 3-7 road trip with Sunday's 7-4 win at Arizona. Yasmani Grandal homered and drove in a career-high four runs and Will Venable added a two-run shot for San Diego, which had totaled four runs in losing its previous three games.