Brewers-Reds Preview

The Associated Press

Time might be running out for the Milwaukee Brewers and their attempt to reach the playoffs.

Looking to avoid a third consecutive loss, the visiting Brewers face another tough challenge against Bronson Arroyo and the postseason-bound Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday night.

Aramis Ramirez homered for one of Milwaukee's five hits during Tuesday's 4-2 loss at Cincinnati. It was the second straight defeat for the Brewers (79-75), who moved back into postseason contention by winning 25 of 32 prior to losing 12-2 at Washington on Monday.

Milwaukee, which trails St. Louis by 4 1/2 games for the final NL wild-card spot, has not dropped three in a row since Aug. 13-15.

"It's a not a good time (to lose two in a row)," manager Ron Roenicke said. "It's certainly looking a lot tougher. We're going to need to get some big-time help."

Things don't get any easier against the Reds (93-61), who have clinched the NL Central title and are tied with Washington in the race for homefield advantage throughout the postseason. The Brewers have lost four in a row and six of seven at Great American Ballpark.

"We're trying to win as many ballgames as we can," said Cincinnati bench coach Chris Speier, who continues to guide the club while manager Dusty Baker recovers from a mini-stroke and irregular heartbeat.

Baker hopes to be back in the Reds' dugout for the their final regular season series next week at St. Louis.

Milwaukee, meanwhile, faces a difficult task against Arroyo (12-8, 3.63 ERA), who is 4-0 with a 2.97 ERA in five home starts since losing there to Arizona on July 16. The right-hander has allowed two runs in 15 innings while going 1-0 in his last two at Great American Ballpark. He gave up a run and six hits in eight innings of a 3-1, 10-inning loss to Los Angeles on Friday.

Arroyo's current winning stretch at home began July 21 when he allowed two runs in six innings of a 6-2 victory over the Brewers. He is 2-1 with a 3.86 ERA in four starts overall versus Milwaukee in 2012.

Ramirez is a lifetime .212 hitter versus Arroyo, but batting .385 (10 for 26) with two homers and seven RBIs in his last seven games.

The Brewers hand the ball to Shaun Marcum (5-4, 3.86), who looks to build off his last outing when he allowed a two-run homer and three other hits in six innings while not factoring in the decision of a 4-2 win at Washington on Friday. He is 0-1 with a 5.16 ERA in six starts since missing more than two months with right elbow tightness.

"I thought he was real good," catcher Jonathan Lucroy told the Brewers' official website of Marcum's last start. "He backwards-pitched a lot of people, executed and made good pitches whenever he had to. That was the most impressive thing to me."

The right-hander went 0-1 with a 4.08 ERA in all three of his previous starts versus Cincinnati last season.

Jay Bruce, who is 2 for 5 with a home run against Marcum, had two hits with an RBI on Tuesday. He's 6 for 15 (.400) in his last four home games versus Milwaukee.

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