The Cincinnati Reds have looked plenty dominant over the last month. That doesn't figure to change during a stretch of 18 straight games against teams with losing records.
The Reds look to continue their season-long success against the Brewers in the opener of a three-game series Monday night in Milwaukee.
Cincinnati (66-42) couldn't complete a sweep of Pittsburgh over the weekend, losing 6-2 on Sunday while mustering only three hits and committing two errors. Despite the defeat, the Reds have won 22 of 26.
"You get greedy," admitted manager Dusty Baker , whose club still leads the second-place Pirates by 4 1/2 games atop the NL Central. "When you start winning every day, two out of three isn't good enough. We went 5-2 on the homestand, but you always want more."
As the Reds open a seven-game road trip, it is uncertain when second baseman Brandon Phillips will return from a left calf strain that has kept him out of the past five contests.
"It's not very pleasant telling him he's not in the lineup because he loves to play," Baker told the Reds' official website.
With or without Phillips, Baker's club will try to put some more distance between itself and the rest of the division during a favorable stretch of schedule. The Reds are 7-2 against the Brewers this year, taking two of three at Miller Park in May.
Milwaukee (48-59) has dropped 12 of 16 overall, and lost 3-0 in St. Louis on Sunday as the Cardinals completed a three-game sweep. The Brewers totaled four runs and went 2 for 22 with runners in scoring position over the weekend."We had a lot of chances with (Sunday's starter Kyle) Lohse," Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke said. "He's really good, but we needed a big hit somewhere and we're just not getting that hit."
Ryan Braun went 0 for 7 in the last two games, striking out four times.
Ending the losing streak won't be easy for the Brewers against Bronson Arroyo (7-6, 3.87 ERA).
Cincinnati is 3-0 when Arroyo starts against Milwaukee this season. The right-hander has earned the victory in two of those games, including July 21 when he gave up two runs in six innings of a 6-2 win.
Arroyo, who is 13-8 with a 3.67 ERA lifetime versus the Brewers, is also looking to win his fourth straight start overall. He surrendered four runs in six innings of a 6-4 win over San Diego on Wednesday.
The Brewers will counter with Yovani Gallardo (9-8, 3.92), who is 1-2 with a 4.08 ERA against the Reds this year. He opposed Arroyo last month and allowed four runs in 5 2-3 innings to take the loss.
Gallardo, though, has allowed either one run or none in four of his last six starts overall. He gave up three hits, including a solo homer, in seven innings of a 10-1 victory over Houston last Tuesday.
|August 01, 2012||Devin Mesoraco||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|August 01, 2012||Wilson Valdez||Day-to-Day||Left game - stiff neck|
|July 31, 2012||Brandon Phillips||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained left calf|
|July 31, 2012||Bill Bray||15-Day DL||Lumbar muscle strain|
|July 31, 2012||Devin Mesoraco||Day-to-Day||Left game - dizziness|
|July 16, 2012||Joey Votto||Day-to-Day||Torn meniscus, left knee - out 3-4 weeks|
|July 29, 2012||Aramis Ramirez||Day-to-Day||Sore left wrist|
|July 17, 2012||Ryan Braun||Day-to-Day||Right thigh strain|
|June 15, 2012||Shaun Marcum||60-Day DL||Right elbow tightness|
|June 02, 2012||Aramis Ramirez||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained left quadricep|
|May 31, 2012||Ryan Braun||Day-to-Day||Tight Achilles|
|May 28, 2012||Jonathan Lucroy||15-Day DL||Fractured right hand, out 4-6 weeks|
MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Martin Maldonado liked what he saw from his pitcher - and the way his teammates beat up on a longtime Brewers' nemesis, too.
Yovani Gallardo pitched seven innings, and Maldonado homered and drove in three runs to help Milwaukee beat the Cincinnati Reds 6-3 Monday night.
Gallardo (10-8) gave up six hits, three walks and one run to equal his longest outing of the season and reach a double-digit win total for the fourth straight year.
Bronson Arroyo (7-7) gave up 10 hits, five walks and five runs in 5 1-3 innings, as the Reds lost for the second straight day after winning 15 of 16. Their last two-game losing "streak" came before the All-Star Break, July 3-4 at the Los Angeles Dodgers
"We were able to put something good together and get some runs, especially against Arroyo," the Brewers catcher said. "He's a pretty good pitcher."
As for Gallardo, "everything" was working, Maldonado said.
"He had a good breaking ball," he said. "He was spotting the fastball where he should be and (had) a good slider."
Aramis Ramirez , Corey Hart and Maldonado homered for the Brewers as part of a four-run sixth inning.
Still, the Brewers' struggling bullpen made it interesting, again.
The Reds, down 5-1, scored twice in the eighth. Francisco Rodriguez relieved Gallardo in the inning and gave up a single, double and walk to load the bases with one out before being lifted to a smattering of boos from the announced crowd of 31,319.
John Axford then gave up an RBI single to pinch-hitter Xavier Paul and a sacrifice fly to Dioner Navarro - a ball that could have been a double but for a great sliding catch in the gap by Norichika Aoki .
"It's just nice to have something seem to go my way," Axford said. "I felt a lot looser than I have in the past. That's something I think I've lacked this year - just being a little too uptight, a little too rigid up there on the mound. I'm just getting back to a relaxed stage, where I was last year and where I have been at points this year."
Maldonado added an RBI double in the eighth, scoring Rickie Weeks .
Axford stayed in to pitch a perfect ninth for his 18th save in 25 chances.
Gallardo is 63-42 in his career but has struggled against the Reds. Entering play, he was 4-5 with a 5.06 ERA in 14 starts against Cincinnati, including a 1-2 mark this season. Gallardo was a different pitcher Monday, allowing just one runner past second base before Zack Cozart smacked a one-out home run in the seventh.
"They have got pretty good hitters on that side, and I have faced them quite a bit," Gallardo said. "It's no secret. They know what I throw and what I like to throw. It's just a matter of keeping the ball down and moving around."
Gallardo's teammates helped him out on defense, too. Aoki robbed Jay Bruce of extra bases in the second, when he leaped against the wall in right to snag a fly ball. And in the fifth, Corey Hart made a full-extension diving catch in foul territory on Arroyo's sacrifice bunt attempt after Ryan Hanigan walked to lead off the inning.
"A couple nice catches today," Roenicke said of Aoki, who had nine putouts. "Two big plays, and those plays, they turn games around. Shutting an offense when you make plays like that is big."
Arroyo had won his last three starts and was 2-0 with a 2.66 ERA against the Brewers this season, 13-8 for his career. On June 26, he took a no-hitter into the eighth inning but came away with a no decision in a 4-3 Reds victory, retiring 20 straight batters at one point.
This time, Arroyo cruised until the fifth, when Maldonado led with a double off the right-center field wall and scored two batters later on Gallardo's RBI single.
Arroyo didn't last through the sixth.
With one out, Ramirez made it 2-0 with his 14th home run of the year into the Brewers' bullpen in left field. Hart followed two pitches later with his 21st homer, a 444-foot blast to the Harley-Davidson seating deck high above the bullpen. Then, after Weeks singled, Maldonado sent a towering fly ball just over the left-field wall and the glove of a leaping Ryan Ludwick . It was Maldonado's first home run since June 20, a span of 33 games and 108 at-bats.
"We couldn't get Maldonado out," Reds Manager Dusty Baker said. "We all thought the home run was a pop up."
The Reds had won 15 of their last 17 despite a loss to Pittsburgh on Sunday, came in 4 1-2 games ahead of the Pirates in the NL Central and, at 66-42, were off to their best 108-game start since 1995. They had won nine straight road games.
Milwaukee had just gotten swept in three games at St. Louis, where they were outscored 18-4, dropping the club back to a season-worst 11 games under .500.
NOTES: Before the game, the Brewers recalled shortstop prospect Jean Segura from Double-A Huntsville and inserted him into the starting lineup, batting eighth. Segura, 22, was the top player acquired from the Los Angeles Angels in their deal for Milwaukee right-hander Zack Greinke in July. He took the 25-man roster spot held by shortstop Cesar Izturis , who has been claimed by the Washington Nationals off waivers. ... 2B Brandon Phillips returned to the Reds' lineup Monday after missing the last five games with a strained left calf. . The Brewers have now hit back-to-back- homers five times this season.