Cincinnati brought a four-game winning streak into Milwaukee looking to gain ground on the front-running Brewers. Now the Reds are hoping to avoid a sweep in the series finale on Thursday afternoon.
Right-hander Sonny Gray (5-6, 4.15 ERA) will start for the Reds, opposed by left-hander Brett Anderson (4-7, 4.15).
Milwaukee, which has won four in a row and eight of its past 10, topped the Reds 4-1 on Wednesday night behind Brandon Woodruff to extend its lead in the National League Central to 9 1/2 games over second-place Cincinnati. The Brewers rallied to win the series opener 7-4 on Tuesday.
Woodruff (8-7) allowed just four hits in six scoreless innings, striking out 10 and walking none for his first victory since June 29. Relievers Brad Boxberger, Devin Williams and Jake Cousins combined for six more strikeouts.
“Our mission at this point is just to stack up wins. It’s good that it’s against this team,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “It doesn’t really matter who it’s against right now, we’ve just got to stack up wins. That’s where we sit. …
“We feel like if we keep stacking up wins, we’re going to be tough to run down. It’s a good start to another series, another series we’re going to win, and a chance to put some real damage to it (Thursday).”
Although the Reds have failed to gain ground in the final regular-season series against the Brewers, they hold a one-game advantage over the San Diego Padres for the second NL wild-card spot.
“I wouldn’t say disappointing,” Reds shortstop Kyle Farmer said of the series to date. “Milwaukee’s a good team, we’re a good team. They’ve been really hot lately, so credit goes to them. They’ve won when they needed to. We’re still in the wild-card hunt, as well. We’re still kind of in the division race, too. We’ll just see what happens, but (Wednesday) was not our night.”
Gray is 0-1 in three starts this season against Milwaukee, having allowed eight runs in 13 2/3 innings, and the Reds have lost all three. He is 3-3 with a 3.08 ERA in 12 career starts vs. the Brewers.
Gray is coming off one of his best outings. He gave up just one hit over seven scoreless innings in a 5-3 victory over the Miami Marlins on Friday.
Anderson has lost his past two starts. He allowed six runs on eight hits in 3 1/3 innings during a 14-4 loss at Pittsburgh on Aug. 14, then gave up three runs on five hits in 5 1/3 innings in a 4-1 home loss to the Washington Nationals on Friday.
Anderson is 4-3 with a 4.13 ERA in 10 career starts against the Reds, including 0-1 with a 3.60 ERA in three starts this season.
After managing just two runs in 6 1/3 innings off Reds starter Luis Castillo on Wednesday, the Brewers tacked on two insurance runs in the eighth. The late rally let them avoid using closer Josh Hader, who notched his 27th save in 28 opportunities in the series opener.
Despite losing ground to the Brewers, the Reds are still focused on the playoff chase.
“We’ve been here before and we just keep playing,” Cincinnati manager David Bell said. “There’s nothing else to do. We’ve got a long way. Every game is going to be important to us. It’s a great time of year. We’re in good shape. We just have to keep playing, just like we always do, and things will work out.”
–Field Level Media