Blue Jays-Brewers Preview
Powered by the red-hot bats of Jonathan Lucroy and Aramis Ramirez, the Milwaukee Brewers are rolling again after a brief offensive slump.
That duo is only making things more difficult for the Toronto Blue Jays, who compounded yet another woeful pitching performance Tuesday with an inept offensive showing.
Milwaukee looks for a sixth straight win Wednesday when it hosts Toronto.
The Brewers (71-55) slogged through a 1-3 stretch from Aug.10-13, totaling six runs. They've since won five in a row while averaging 5.6 runs and were 5 for 11 with runners in scoring position in a 6-1 win over the Blue Jays on Tuesday night.
Ramirez and Lucroy each had two doubles, with Lucroy increasing his major league-leading total to 42. Ramirez is batting .426 over his last 17 games with eight extra-base hits, and he's 7 for 14 with eight RBIs in four career matchups with Toronto at Miller Park.
Lucroy is 6 for 17 over his last four games, with five of those hits going for extra bases.
''Luc always has good at-bats," manager Ron Roenicke said.
Complementing the offensive effort was an impressive outing by Mike Fiers, who allowed Toronto's only two hits over seven innings.
Milwaukee's five straight wins are its most since its season-best nine-game run from April 4-13.
The Blue Jays (64-62) have lost six of seven, with their pitchers posting a 6.95 ERA in that span. J.A. Happ allowed four runs in 3 1-3 innings on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Dioner Navarro and Colby Rasmus provided Toronto's only hits, and Jose Reyes was 0 for 4 - snapping a nine-game hitting streak in which he batted .405.
"We're in a little bit of a rut," manager John Gibbons said.
The Blue Jays will look for a lift from R.A. Dickey (9-12, 3.95 ERA), who is seeking his first win in four tries and has allowed four runs in 12 innings over his last two outings. He paid for his only mistake in six innings Wednesday at Seattle - a first-inning two-run homer by Kendrys Morales - in a 2-0 defeat.
"I have to tip my hat," Dickey, who is 1-1 with a 2.70 ERA in three interleague starts, told MLB's official website. "But outside of that (home run) I felt like I battled pretty good tonight."
The right-hander is 1-1 with a 2.63 ERA in five games - three starts - against the Brewers, but hasn't faced them since taking a 6-2 loss on Aug. 21, 2011, with the New York Mets. Dickey gave up two runs in seven innings.
Lucroy is 3 for 6 off Dickey with a double, and Carlos Gomez is 6 for 10 against the knuckleballer.
Milwaukee starter Jimmy Nelson (2-3, 3.86) faced the Dodgers in each of his last two turns, giving up two runs over six innings both times. He suffered a 5-1 defeat Aug. 10 and didn't receive a decision in Milwaukee's 6-3 road win Friday. The latter marked his fifth straight quality start, though he's won just one of those outings.
"Jimmy was good. I liked his command," Roenicke told MLB's official website after Friday's victory. "...I thought that was one of his better games."
Opponents are batting .283 against Nelson over four day games compared to .222 in three night contests.