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Lohse to keep grinding after latest tough start

MILWAUKEE -- What are the Brewers' options with struggling veteran Kyle Lohse, who saw his ERA rise to 6.44 and his home run count climb to 16 in another poor start on Monday?

"I think right now it's Kyle. Kyle is the option," manager Craig Counsell in the wake of an 8-5 loss to the Royals at Miller Park. "We have to get Kyle straightened out. I don't think it's a long ways off, so he's the guy."

Counsell offered that vote of confidence after Lohse surrendered five runs over five innings, including a three-run first and two more in the fifth, when former Brewer Lorenzo Cain smacked a misplaced slider for a two-run homer and a 5-0 lead.

The Brewers' deficit grew to 8-2 entering the ninth, when a rally brought the potential tying run to the plate with none out. When Wade Davis retired three consecutive hitters to stop the Brewers' threat, Lohse's earlier trouble stood out.

"I'm not that far away," Lohse said. "I know it is ugly, but it is just make a pitch here and there. That's what I've been accustomed to being able to do in my career, figuring out how to make those pitches. I have a lot of time left. I have to keep grinding out."

A handful of pitches stood out in this start. Lohse opened the game by hitting Alcides Escobar with a sinker that ran inside, sparking a tough-luck, three-run inning that saw Escobar initially called out on a play at the plate, only to be ruled safe upon replay review.

Lohse then shut down the Royals until the fifth, when he issued a four-pitch walk to Mile Moustakas ahead of Cain's two-run homer. It was the 16th home run off Lohse in 14 starts, a pace that would blow away his career-high 28 home runs allowed in both 2003 and '04, when Lohse was a young power pitcher with the Twins.

Now, Lohse is a finesse pitcher coming off four consecutive seasons of double-digit victories and ERAs of 3.54 or below. Lohse is in the final season of his contract, adding urgency for a Brewers team that could consider trading him for prospects amid a tough year -- if Lohse can author a turnaround.

"I kind of pride myself on being able to grind myself through times like this," Lohse said. "My career hasn't been all pretty. I've been through some pretty tough times before. This is a tough one. You want to be there to pick up the team, then you put them in a hole early. That's a tough way to try to win ballgames."

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast.
Read More: Milwaukee Brewers, Kyle Lohse