Nationals-Brewers Preview

The Associated Press

It took Kyle Lohse three months to get back to .500.

The Milwaukee Brewers right-hander will look to finish the weekend with a winning record for the first time this year with a victory over the Washington Nationals on Sunday afternoon.

Lohse (7-7, 3.22 ERA) dug himself a deep hole early, going 1-6 with a 4.37 ERA over his first 10 starts.

The right-hander managed to even out his record, however, with a 6-1 record and a 2.29 ERA over his last 12 starts. His last three have been particularly good, as he has posted a 0.47 ERA with 17 strikeouts against three walks.

His success continued at Wrigley Field on Thursday, when he shut out the Chicago Cubs for six innings, but didn't get a decision as Milwaukee eventually won 5-0.

"He's done what we hoped he would do," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "It's too bad because the record with the way he's pitched should be better."

Lohse has had an uptick in his strikeouts the last three outings, striking out 8.05 batters per nine innings after averaging 5.54 over his first 19 starts.

Lohse's run to the break-even mark included a dazzling performance at Nationals Park on July 3, when he limited the Nationals to a solo home run and three other hits in eight innings of a 4-1 Brewers victory. Lohse threw 71 of his 103 pitches for strikes and held Denard Span, Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper hitless in 11 collective at-bats.

He'll be under pressure to help a struggling Brewers offense that has managed just two runs during its three-game losing streak. Milwaukee (46-64) is playing without suspended slugger Ryan Braun and injured regulars Aramis Ramirez and Corey Hart.

"I don't want to keep making excuses, but we're without our 3-4-5 hitters so we're going to battle the best that we can," Roenicke said. "You take those guys out of any lineup and you're going to struggle at times."

Milwaukee managed four hits in Saturday night's 3-0 loss to Washington, including an 0-for-14 performance from the two through five hitters in its lineup.

Norichika Aoki is 4 for his last 30 (.133), while Carlos Gomez is hitless in his last 12.

The Nationals (54-56) haven't been much better offensively. They plated three runs or fewer for the 15th time in 22 games on Saturday but did get solo home runs from Wilson Ramos and Adam LaRoche.

Ramos is 5 for 16 with two homers in his last five games, but LaRoche is 2 for 30 in his last eight despite his solo shot Saturday.

Taylor Jordan (1-3, 3.31) is hoping for offensive backing similar to his last outing. After receiving just eight runs of support over his first five starts, the Nationals provided the right-hander 13 on Sunday in a 14-1 rout against the New York Mets for his first major league victory.

"I'm extremely happy," Jordan said. "For a little bit I was wondering. I go 0-4, 0-5 - am I helping the team? Then finally just to get that one win means that I am."

Jordan held the Mets to a run and five hits in six innings, striking out seven while walking just one. The rookie has established a strong sense of control, walking only five in 35 1-3 innings.

Jordan's second big-league start came one month ago against the Brewers, whom he held to two runs in 5 2-3 innings of an 8-5 Washington win.

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