A two-week surge has vaulted the Milwaukee Brewers into a tie for the National League's second wild-card spot.
More importantly, the Brewers are there thanks to a bullpen that looks much different than the unit that catapulted Milwaukee to Game 7 of the National League Championship Series last year but is pitching just as well.
The Brewers will look to do their part to climb into sole possession of a playoff spot Wednesday night, when they host the San Diego Padres in the third game of a four-game series.
The Brewers remained red-hot Tuesday night, when Mike Moustakas hit the tiebreaking homer in the seventh inning and five pitchers combined to four-hit the Padres in a 3-1 win.
The victory was the 11th in the last 12 games for the Brewers (82-69), who moved into a tie for the final wild-card spot thanks to the Chicago Cubs' 4-2 loss to the Cincinnati Reds. The Brewers were five games behind the Cubs on Sept. 5.
Of the four relievers who closed out Tuesday's win, only one, winning pitcher Matt Albers, pitched out of the Brewers' bullpen last year. Gio Gonzalez pitched in relief Tuesday for the first time since July 10, 2009. He was followed by Brent Suter, who made 32 starts the previous two years before undergoing Tommy John surgery last July.
And Drew Pomeranz, acquired from the San Francisco Giants on July 31, struck out four in two perfect innings of relief to earn his second save. Pomeranz has whiffed 36 batters in 21 1/3 innings for the Brewers.
"I think we've gotten ourselves in a place where I feel like we've got a bunch of weapons in the pen again," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "And it's not one guy, it's multiple guys we can go to. To go through a stretch like this, that's what you need."
The loss was the sixth in a row for the Padres (68-83), who are using the series against the Brewers to get a good look at the pitchers they expect to be a vital part of their 2020 rotation. Garrett Richards made his season debut Monday after missing 14 months following Tommy John surgery, while rookie phenom Chris Paddack tossed five innings, giving up one run and one hit, on Tuesday.
Lamet will be making his 13th start since returning from the Tommy John surgery that cost him all of 2018. He took the loss last Thursday, when he gave up three runs over five innings as the Padres fell to the Cubs, 4-1.
"He's back here pitching consistently," Padres manager Andy Green told reporters earlier this month. "He's throwing 90 to 100 pitches after missing a full season. We're very encouraged by that."
Houser took the loss last Friday, when he allowed four runs over three innings as the Brewers were blanked by the St. Louis Cardinals, 10-0.
Houser tossed 3 1/3 scoreless innings of relief in his lone appearance against the Padres on June 19. Lamet didn't factor into the decision in his only start against Milwaukee on June 17, 2017, when he allowed three runs over six innings.
--Field Level Media