April 01, 2014

MILWAUKEE -- It's hard replacing a heart-of-the-order offensive talent.

The Milwaukee Brewers are finding that out the hard way, struggling to score runs after a trade deadline deal that shipped all-star catcher Jonathan Lucroy to Texas.

Prior to their 4-3 victory over the Braves Wednesday night, Milwaukee had failed to score more than three runs in seven of their previous eight games -- the lone exception being a 15-6 rout of the Diamondbacks last Saturday -- and winning just one of those contests

"He was one of our biggest producers this year," said Chris Carter, who hit his team-leading 26th home run of the season Wednesday night. "We have guys that have to pick up where he left off and get some big hits."

Another added benefit of Lucroy's presence was consistency at the top of the lineup: Lucroy usually slotted in the No. 4 spot, with Jonathan Villar leading off, Scooter Gennett batting second and Ryan Braun in the No. 3 spot.

Now, Counsell is shuffling things around looking for the right fit.

"Our lineups have been pretty set for most of the season," Counsell said. "One or two spots have moved around but they've been generally set but he first four hitters have been pretty set.

"It's going to change now. It's going to be a little change from day to day. We'll probably try some things. There's not the perfect guy to hit in that spot. It will be some trial stuff; we'll move some guys around."

With the offense trying to get back on track, the Brewers will look to their starting pitching to keep games close for the time being.

Matt Garza will take the mound Thursday looking to keep his recent hot streak going.

After missing the first two months of the season because of a strained lat muscle suffered during his final exhibition start in spring, Garza is starting to get into a groove. He's 2-0 with a 3.12 ERA in his last three starts coming off one of his best outings of the season, having held the Diamondbacks to just two runs on three hits over 5 1/3 innings of work in a 15-6 Brewers victory last Saturday in Phoenix.

"It's a lot of fun to have my stuff back," said Garza.

Atlanta will hand the ball to right-hander Roberto Hernandez at it looks to clinch its third consecutive series victory.

Hernandez -- formerly known as Fausto Carmona -- returned to the big leagues for the first time in over a year last Saturday, allowing three runs on six hits and a walk with four strikeouts over five innings of work in a 13-5 victory over the Cardinals in St Louis.

"I went back and looked at some reports," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "He battled his way through and he has his sinker, slider and change. It was exactly what we needed for him to try and get as deep as he could."

He began his season pitching for the Blue Jays' Triple-A affiliate but was released after going 4-4 with a 4.42 ERA in 13 starts. The Braves signed him in early July and assigned him to Triple-A Gwinnett where he made three starts and went 0-2 with a 5.52 ERA.

"It's always a great opportunity to pitch in the big leagues, so I was very emotional to get the opportunity to pitch," Hernandez said through an interpreter. "It was a wonderful experience and just keep going forward and make the most of it and take it from here."

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