Reds-Brewers Preview

The Associated Press

Homer Bailey is suddenly looking a lot like the pitcher who led off July with his second career no-hitter.

Bailey hopes to help the Cincinnati Reds avoid a fourth loss in five games Saturday when they visit the Milwaukee Brewers.

Cincinnati had its lead for the final wild-card spot cut to 4 1/2 games over streaking Washington with Friday's 5-1 loss. Ryan Ludwick lost a ball in the lights to help Milwaukee jump out to a 2-0 lead in the first and the Reds (83-65) were limited to four hits in Kyle Lohse's complete game.

Despite being fourth in the NL with 4.3 runs per game, it was the third time in four contests the Reds had scored one or fewer runs.

Second baseman Brandon Phillips is 6 for 39 (.154) with two extra-base hits in his last 10 games.

Carlos Gomez, batting .116 against the Reds to start the night, had three hits - including a pair of bloopers - for Milwaukee.

"I guess that was (Gomez's) night when things like that happen over and over," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "But we didn't help ourselves on the defensive side of the ball and with (five) walks."

The Brewers (64-82) have won five of the last seven meetings, holding Cincinnati to one run or none three times during that span.

Bailey (10-10, 3.39 ERA) struggled after his no-hitter against San Francisco, losing his next four starts with a 4.68 ERA.

The Brewers tagged him for four runs, 10 hits and three walks in 5 2-3 innings in his very next outing.

Bailey has since been impressive, going 5-0 with a 2.44 ERA over eight starts. That included back-to-back quality starts against the Brewers. in which he allowed four runs in 14 innings, and ended with two runs allowed over his last 21 1-3 innings.

Though Los Angeles snapped his 17 1-3 inning shutout streak, Bailey more than held his own against Clayton Kershaw on Sunday, limiting the Dodgers to two runs over seven innings of a 3-2 win.

The right-hander retired the first 11 batters he faced, seven on strikeouts.

"Homer was masterful, especially in the beginning," Baker said.

Johnny Hellweg (1-3, 8.64) aims to build on his most effective major league start for Milwaukee. The rookie right-hander lost his first three starts with an 11.17 ERA, the final one coming against the Reds, when he allowed four runs and five walks in 4 1-3 innings July 10. He was demoted to the minors that same day.

On Saturday, however, in his return to the majors, Hellweg earned his first win, yielding three runs and four hits in six innings of a 5-3 victory over the Chicago Cubs.

"It feels awesome," Hellweg said. "I am going to embrace it a little bit. I am not going to put it behind me yet. It feels good to go out there and put up six innings and give a chance for our team to win."

The second inning continued to hurt Hellweg, as he yielded a walk and home run to start the frame. He has allowed at least one run in every second inning he has pitched this season, with 13 runs in four starts.

Still, this time Hellweg rallied by retiring 13 of the next 16 batters he faced.

Milwaukee's Aramis Ramirez suffered a contusion on his left wrist after he was hit by a pitch Friday and is day to day.

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