MLB

Brewers-Reds Preview

The NL Central-worst Milwaukee Brewers aren't showing signs of slowing down offensively as they attempt to reel in the fourth-place Cincinnati Reds.

The Brewers hope to keep swinging hot bats as they try to extend their longest winning streak in 15 months Saturday night at Great American Ball Park.

Jonathan Lucroy, Ryan Braun and Carlos Gomez had three hits apiece Friday to help Milwaukee (34-48) win its sixth in a row and match a season-high run total in a series-opening 12-1 victory.

Gomez hit his first career grand slam and tied his career high with five RBIs while Gerardo Parra and Aramis Ramirez added solo shots. Parra is batting .390 in his last 15 games, Braun has gone 16 for 33 in his past eight, Ramirez is 8 for 15 in his last five and Lucroy has gone 11 for 20 in his past four.

''We know we can hit,'' Gomez said. ''It just seems like, this whole year, we were never able to put it together. When we get five or six guys extremely hot, we know we can make some runs.''

The Brewers have batted .356 and averaged 7.5 runs during their longest win streak since a nine-game run in April 2014. They're hoping to keep it going as they look to move within three games of the Reds.

Cincinnati (36-42) has faded by losing five of seven, posting a 6.55 ERA in its last five games.

The Brewers rank near the bottom of the majors with 188 walks, but it would serve them well to take a patient approach against Reds starter Josh Smith (0-1, 5.63 ERA).

After allowing four runs and walking six over three innings in his big-league debut at Pittsburgh on June 23, Smith showed improvement but continued to struggle with his command Sunday. The right-hander gave up three runs - one earned - and four hits while walking four more over five innings in a 7-2 road loss to the New York Mets.

"The key for Josh is to work ahead and challenge more in the zone," manager Bryan Price told MLB's official website. "His ball-strike ratios need to come up and he needs to be in more advantageous counts."

Jimmy Nelson is searching for consistency after yielding four runs over five innings in Monday's 7-4 win at Philadelphia. He wasn't able to build on his prior outing when he allowed one run and two hits over eight innings in a 4-1 home win over the Mets.

Nelson (5-8, 4.45) has a 5.87 ERA over his last four starts.

The right-hander faces the Reds for the third time this year. He allowed one run over eight innings but did not factor in a 2-1 home loss April 22 before giving up seven over 2 1-3 in a 9-6 road defeat five days later.

Jay Bruce homered off Nelson in the most recent matchup. Joey Votto and Todd Frazier, however, have gone a combined 2 for 11 lifetime against him.

Votto is 2 for 23 over his past seven games after going 0 for 3 Friday.

The Reds had won nine of 11 at Great American Ball Park while scoring 5.6 runs per game before managing just six hits off Mike Fiers and Tyler Cravy in the opener.

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