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Brewers-Reds Preview

The Milwaukee Brewers wasted a great effort by Yovani Gallardo the last time out, and if they do it again, they'll be eliminated from playoff contention.

The Brewers will try to extend their unlikely postseason hopes another day Thursday in Cincinnati in the finale of a three-game series with the Reds.

Milwaukee (81-77) stayed alive in the race for the second wild card Wednesday night with a 5-0 win over the Reds (73-85).

San Francisco then lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers to keep the Brewers mathematically afloat with a four-game deficit and four to play. Any Brewers loss or Giants win over the final days of the season would deny Milwaukee a one-game play-in for the NL's last spot.

Once in seemingly comfortable position with a division lead for much of the season, Milwaukee now finds itself in need of a miracle after going 10-22 since Aug. 20. Manager Ron Roenicke knows what it'll take to avoid missing the playoffs for a third straight season after reaching the NLCS in 2011.

"Hopefully we get a lot of luck here," Roenicke said.

Ryan Braun is 0 for 8 in the series as he deals with an ailing right thumb, but says being shut down for the season hasn't come up.

The five-run output was one shy of matching the Brewers' total from their previous six games. They still managed just six hits and are batting .190 over a 2-5 stretch.

The Reds' offense regressed with a two-hit effort after scoring 10 runs in their previous two contests, both wins. They've now scored 18 runs in a 2-7 span with a .172 average.

They won't have Billy Hamilton in the finale after the center fielder stole a home run away from Braun in the third inning, slamming his head against the fence before coming out of the game in the fifth with a mild concussion.

''I was a little dizzy,'' Hamilton said. ''I couldn't concentrate. Light bothers me a little bit. We'll see how I feel tomorrow.''

The Brewers will be without second baseman Scooter Gennett, who has an injured right thigh.

Gallardo (8-10, 3.46 ERA) has seen his season fall off along with Milwaukee's. The right-hander is 0-4 with a 4.13 ERA and 1.53 WHIP in six starts, though he reined those numbers in some with seven scoreless innings of five-hit ball in Friday's 4-2 loss in Pittsburgh. Gallardo struck out a season-high 11.

"That's the best I've seen him all year," catcher Jonathan Lucroy told MLB's official website. "Absolutely. He was awesome."

He's also lacked the proper run support against Cincinnati this season, going 0-2 with a 3.12 ERA and 2.42 run support average in four starts.

Gallardo is overly familiar with plenty of the Cincinnati order. Most notably, Todd Frazier is batting .379 (11 for 29) and Brandon Phillips is at .355 (22 for 62).

Cincinnati sends David Holmberg to the mound.

Holmberg (1-2, 5.25) is making a third straight start after a brief bullpen stint that followed two miserable starts to begin his season. His second shot in the rotation has gone considerably better with a 1-1 record and 2.25 ERA over 12 innings.

In Friday's 2-1 loss in St. Louis, the left-hander allowed two runs and five hits in six innings to give him an 18 2-3-inning stretch with three runs allowed.

Holmberg's previous start came in a 5-1 win in Milwaukee on Sept. 13, when he yielded a run and two hits in six innings in his best big league start to beat Gallardo.

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