MILWAUKEE -- Christian Yelich was held in check, Lorenzo Cain and Travis Shaw were injured, and nobody else with a bat in his hands and a Brewers uniform on his back could pick up the slack in a 3-1 loss to the Reds on Tuesday at Miller Park that pushed
MILWAUKEE -- Christian Yelich was held in check, Lorenzo Cain and Travis Shaw were injured, and nobody else with a bat in his hands and a Brewers uniform on his back could pick up the slack in a 3-1 loss to the Reds on Tuesday at Miller Park that pushed Milwaukee closer to "Wild Card or bust" territory in a push for the postseason.
The Brewers have lost three of their last four games after dropping only three of the previous 15 and fell 3 1/2 games behind the National League Central-leading Cubs, who beat the D-backs. Milwaukee has 10 regular-season games to make up that ground. The Brewers' lead for the top NL Wild Card spot is down to two games after the Cardinals won in Atlanta.
Yelich tallied one of Milwaukee's three hits -- all singles -- against five Reds pitchers led by Michael Lorenzen, who allowed one hit and one unearned run over four innings in his first Major League start in three years. The Brewers played the final five innings without Shaw, who left the game after being hit by a pitch on the right knee, and the final four innings without Cain, who left the game at the start of the fifth with a tight right rib cage.
"There's nine guys in the lineup," manager Craig Counsell said. "We didn't do anything offensively tonight. They pitched well. Lorenzen did a nice job. [Sal] Romano did a nice job. Very few little rallies going. Not much offense."
That's been the story of the three losses to the Pirates and Reds on this homestand. The Brewers dropped those games by scores of 3-1, 3-2 and 3-1.
"We're going to have to do better than that," Counsell said. "More pressure has to be put on the other team. There was nothing really happening tonight. I don't know if we really had a significant rally all night."
Said Shaw: "I mean, we scored eight runs [Monday] night. It's going to happen. We're not going to score eight runs every game the rest of the year. They pitched well tonight, we had a couple of hitters -- our three- and four-hole hitters -- come out of the game early. It was just one of those nights."
The same was true for Brewers starter Chase Anderson, who took the loss after he was charged with three earned runs on three hits over 3 2/3 innings, matching his shortest start of the season.
The Reds jumped to a quick 2-0 lead against Anderson when Scott Schebler singled on the game's first pitch and Jose Peraza followed with a two-run home run on a 3-1 fastball. It was the 30th homer off Anderson this season, the most in the National League and most against a Brewers pitcher since Braden Looper served up a club-record 39 in 2009.
Milwaukee halved that deficit when Schebler bobbled Jonathan Schoop's single in the second inning for a run-scoring error, but the Cincinnati outfielder atoned in the fourth with an RBI double when Anderson grooved a two-out 0-2 fastball.
"I was just kind of inconsistent where I could throw the ball tonight," Anderson said. "One inning I made a pitch, the next inning I couldn't. The inconsistency of that's been the thing I've been battling pretty much this whole season."
Can he pinpoint the problem?
"I would say it's some mechanical, some mental," Anderson said. "When I feel good, I try to repeat that mentally so I can do it physically. Like when I got out of that jam in the third inning, I felt like where I was last season and where I've been good this year. I'm trying to repeat that when I go out for the fourth, get the first guy out and battled through it and gave up that run. It's just been kind of a struggle to find that and keep it consistent."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Cain exits: Counsell said he didn't like the look of some swings from Cain, who grounded into a double play in the first inning and struck out on a foul tip to lead off the fourth before exiting. Rib cage injuries are notoriously tricky, and any absence would hurt the Brewers not only at the plate, but in the field, as well, since Cain is the Brewers' best defender.
"We'll see how we're looking [Wednesday]," Counsell said. "He's pretty adamant about wanting to play, but we have to be careful with this thing, too." More >
Coming up empty: There wasn't much going offensively for the Brewers, who were 1-for-3 with runners in scoring position and only had one such at-bat after the second inning. It belonged to Keon Broxton, who took over for Cain and was batting against Romano in the sixth with two outs and Yelich at second after a single and a stolen base. Broxton struck out swinging at a slider low and away.
"I've been putting a lot of pressure on myself to get stuff done like that," Broxton said. "It's been hard with limited at-bats, but I had a chance. I had a good chance. I should have laid off the 3-2 slider and just kept the line moving, pass it off to the next guy. I was over-aggressive, trying to get the job done. Moving forward, I have to stay simple and do the best I can."
Yelich's stolen base gave him an even 20, making him the third different player in franchise history with 30 homers and 20 steals in a season. The others are Ryan Braun (2009, '11-12) and Tommy Harper (1970).
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Reds speedster Billy Hamilton got a night off in center field, but Mason Williams made a tremendous defensive play in his place. In the sixth inning with one out, Curtis Granderson lifted a long fly ball to the deepest part of the ballpark. Williams tracked the ball perfectly and made a nice over-the-shoulder catch on the run before hitting the wall. According to Statcast™, Williams ran an even 100 feet to catch the drive.
Giovany Gonzalez toes the rubber for the Brewers for the third time on Wednesday as Milwaukee tries to avoid dropping a second straight series. Matt Harvey starts for Cincinnati in the 6:40 p.m. CT series finale. Gonzalez faced the Reds twice this season during his time with the Nationals. He allowed seven runs (six earned) on 15 hits and three walks over 9 2/3 innings.
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.