After a promising start to a nine-game homestand, the Milwaukee Brewers are in the midst of a five-game skid.
The Brewers look to avoid a season-high sixth straight loss as they open a two-game interleague set against the Texas Rangers on Tuesday night at Miller Park.
Milwaukee (14-16) held a 22-12 scoring advantage over Pittsburgh to win the first two on the home stretch, but has been outscored 35-17 while matching a season high with five straight losses.
"We need to stop that downward momentum and turn it over," reliever John Axford told the Brewers' official website.
Losers in eight of 11 since winning nine in a row, the Brewers hope they bottomed out when St. Louis completed a four-game sweep at Miller Park with a 10-1 win Sunday. Twice in that series, Milwaukee gave up six runs in an inning.
"You forget about it," said Sunday's losing pitcher Marco Estrada , who was tagged for eight runs in 3 1-3 innings. "Right now, it's in my head, and I'm sure it's in a lot of guys' heads, that we just got swept in a pretty crucial series. But you try to go out and forget about it. That's the only thing you can do."
One of the few recent Milwaukee bright spots has been star Ryan Braun , who is batting .424 (14 for 33) while hitting safely in eight straight games. He has four doubles and two home runs while going 8 of 27 (.296) with five RBIs in six games versus Texas.
Teammate Wily Peralta (2-2, 6.00 ERA) takes the mound in the opener looking to bounce back after he gave up six runs and 11 hits in 4 1-3 innings of a 6-5 loss to St. Louis on Thursday.
"That's just part of the experience," Peralta said. "Those days, you have to calm down yourself, try to make one pitch at a time. Don't try to go too crazy out there."
This will be his first appearance against the Rangers (20-12), who won two of three at Milwaukee in 2010.
Texas swept Boston at home over the weekend but lost 9-2 to the Chicago Cubs in a rescheduled game Monday. The Rangers, who entered that contest with a major league-best 3.02 ERA and held the Red Sox to four runs and 18 hits, gave up five runs in the fourth inning and 11 hits overall.
Scheduled starter Justin Grimm (2-1, 2.28) has been a big reason for Texas' staff success, but the right-hander allowed a three-run homer to Tyler Flowers in the sixth inning and four walks in a 3-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Thursday."He really had good stuff working (Thursday)," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "Just left one in the wrong spot to Flowers."
The Rangers were held to five hits Monday, including two in seven innings by ex-teammate Scott Feldman .
Ian Kinsler 's 11-game hitting streak was snapped after he went 0 for 4 on Monday. The Texas second baseman is 4 for 27 in his last seven interleague games.
Texas' Lance Berkman is a career .306 hitter against the Brewers, but the 37-year-old designated hitter could also rest during this brief interleague set. He did play in any of the three games at Wrigley Field.
|April 20, 2013||Nick Tepesch||Day-to-Day||Left game - right arm bruise|
|April 11, 2013||Justin Miller||60-Day DL||Recovery from right elbow surgery|
|April 07, 2013||Matt Harrison||15-Day DL||Inflamed nerve in lower back|
|April 07, 2013||Yu Darvish||Day-to-Day||Left game - blister|
|March 24, 2013||Neftali Feliz||60-Day DL||Recovery from right elbow surgery|
|March 22, 2013||Joakim Soria||15-Day DL||Recovery from right elbow surgery|
|April 28, 2013||Jean Segura||Day-to-Day||Right index finger|
|April 12, 2013||Alex Gonzalez||Day-to-Day||Left hand contusion|
|April 07, 2013||Jean Segura||Day-to-Day||Left game - bruised left quad|
|April 07, 2013||Chris Narveson||15-Day DL||Sprained middle finger|
|April 06, 2013||Aramis Ramirez||15-Day DL||Left knee sprain|
|April 06, 2013||Aramis Ramirez||15-Day DL||Left knee sprain|
MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Yuniesky Betancourt 's secret to his home run binge is simple.
"Leave the ball on home plate and I swing," the Milwaukee first baseman said.
Betancourt's eighth homer of the season capped a five-run first inning Tuesday night and the Brewers snapped a season-high five-game losing streak with a 6-3 victory over the Texas Rangers .
Aramis Ramirez also homered for the first time this year and NL batting leader Carlos Gomez added a two-run double for Milwaukee, which rebounded from a four-game sweep by visiting St. Louis last weekend.
"After a rough five games, it was a good start," said Gomez, who is hitting .449 during his career-best 13-game hitting streak. "It brought the energy back to the team."
Wily Peralta (3-2) gave up three runs - two earned - and five hits in six innings. The right-hander, who turns 24 on Wednesday, struck out two and did not walk a batter.
"Great sinker, great fastball," Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke said. "Had a good change-up and got some outs on it. His slider was a little inconsistent but this was a great game for him. This is a good lineup to go through and I really thought he made some great pitches when he needed to."
Three relievers followed with an inning each for the Brewers, including Jim Henderson in the ninth for his seventh save.
Mitch Moreland homered for the Rangers, who lost consecutive games for the third time this year. They also lost their season-high fourth straight on the road.
Justin Grimm (2-2) gave up five earned runs on eight hits in five innings after entering the game with a total of six earned runs allowed this year. The right-hander struck out seven and walked three.
"(The first inning) was long. Too long," Grimm said. "Balls were finding grass and not gloves. I made a couple of good pitches and I made a couple of bad ones. It was a little frustrating. It was just that one inning there."
After back-to-back singles by Norichika Aoki and Jean Segura in the first, Ryan Braun drove in Milwaukee's first run with a single over the head of Nelson Cruz in right field.
"Cruz thought he was closer to the wall," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "He jumped a little too soon and didn't come up with the ball."
But because Segura thought Cruz was going to catch the ball near the warning track, he was headed back to first when he saw Braun rounding the base for what turned out to be a long single.
Segura's mistake did not cost his team, however.
One by leftfielder David Murphy later in the inning did.
With two outs, Gomez blooped a two-run double to left-center. Murphy got a bad break on the fly ball hit to his left, and then it bounced passed him as he ran toward it.
"I lost it," Murphy said. "I don't know exactly what I lost it in. I tried to change direction just because I was unsure where the ball was. I slipped. I picked it up again. I went after it, and then I lost it again in the window or whatever that is up above the seats (behind home plate). It was an unfortunate play."
Betancourt followed with his two-run homer, also to left-center, to give Milwaukee a 5-0 lead.
"We really shouldn't have been in that (5-0) hole," Washington said.
Betancourt leads the Brewers with eight homers after hitting seven last season.
"Yuni, if he keeps driving the ball, it's impressive but he's squaring up a lot of baseballs," Roenicke said. "He's seeing the ball."
Texas got its first run in the second when Moreland hit his fifth homer, a solo shot to left-center. It was the only hit for the Rangers in the first four innings.
In the sixth, Texas added two more runs. Adrian Beltre hit a grounder to Ramirez at third that bounced off his glove and allowed Jeff Baker to score from third. Cruz's sacrifice fly scored Elvis Andrus and cut Milwaukee's lead to 5-3.
Ramirez made it 6-3 with his homer to left off reliever Jason Frasor .
Milwaukee's Tom Gorzelanny pitched the seventh and Brandon Kintzler the eighth.
NOTES: Milwaukee is 10-3 when scoring first. ... Braun extended his interleague hitting streak to 29 straight games dating back to June 17, 2011 at Boston. . The last time these teams met was June 13, 2010, at Miller Park. ... Grimm has 16 strikeouts in his last two games - both losses. ... This is the sixth time and first since 2006 that Texas played a different opponent on three consecutive days. The Rangers hosted Boston on Sunday and played the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Monday.