Brewers hope Yelich returns against Rangers

It took just over four hours, but the Milwaukee Brewers continued to keep pace in the crowded National League wild-card race even while Christian Yelich was continuing to experience back tightness.

The Brewers seek their fifth straight win and hope to get Yelich back in the lineup Saturday night when they host the Texas Rangers.

Milwaukee (61-56) enters Saturday as the second wild-card team and one game behind Washington. The Brewers are a half-game up on the St. Louis Cardinals, New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies, who all won on Friday night.

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The Brewers dropped five of six when they visited the Oakland Athletics and Chicago Cubs but have rebounded nicely by scoring 27 runs in their first four-game winning streak since June 6-9.

On Friday, the Brewers opened the series with a dramatic 6-5 victory. They overcame a blown save by Josh Hader and won it on a solo homer by Eric Thames in the ninth while also getting a two-run single by Yasmani Grandal in the seventh.

"We got to get two more," Thames said in an on-field interview with Fox Sports Wisconsin. "We're in a hot race right now, so two more wins, keep it rolling."

Whether the Brewers can keep it rolling without Yelich remains unknown. He missed his third straight game with a back injury that he has dealt with at various points this season. It flared up Monday in Pittsburgh when he hit two homers.

"Christian has gone through this enough that we have a pretty good idea of how he heals through it and what he reports," Brewers manager Craig Counsell told reporters Friday afternoon.

"When he's ready, I think we've felt pretty good about that. We'll know and he'll indicate it. I think he's got pretty good awareness (about) reading himself and understanding when it's safe and not safe," Counsell said.

The Rangers haven't been able to keep from fading in the American League wild-card race. They are eight games behind Oakland for the second wild card, have lost three straight and 15 of their last 23 games.

On Friday, Texas came back three times in a game in which it had 13 baserunners reach base without getting a hit. Hunter Pence, Logan Forsythe and Elvis Andrus homered Friday, but the Rangers stranded 11 and went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position.

During its three-game losing streak, Texas is 0-for-14 with runners scoring position.

"We've been pretty resilient all year, but now we got to push through and find a way to get that big hit to win the game," Rangers manager Chris Woodward said.

Adrian Houser (4-5, 4.24 ERA) will start for Milwaukee and is 0-5 with a 6.82 ERA in his eight starts. He last started on Sunday in a 7-2 loss to the Cubs. Houser allowed four runs on nine hits in five innings.

Texas rookie Pedro Payano (1-0, 3.45) will make his third career start and fifth overall appearance. He has a pair of no-decisions and a 4.66 ERA in his first two starts.

Payano last started in a 9-4 win over Detroit on Sunday, when he allowed three runs (two earned) on six hits in 4 1/3 innings. Payano has allowed one homer in his first 15 2/3 innings and held opponents to one hit in 12 at-bats with runners in scoring position.

--Field Level Media

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