The Milwaukee Brewers have been tough to beat at home lately and target their eighth straight win at Miller Park tonight in the second portion of a four-game series versus the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Brewers have won seven in a row as the host, last losing at Miller Park on July 29 in 11 innings versus Washington, and ended a three-game losing streak with Thursday's 7-4 come-from-behind win. Corey Hart's grand slam in the eighth inning was the difference and helped Milwaukee to its second win in the past seven contests.
"I was trying to get him out with a fastball up in the zone," Phils reliever Josh Lindblom said of facing Hart. "I was coming at him and changing speeds to keep him off balance. They're a good fastball hitting club. If you're able to keep your stuff down in the zone, your chances are good. He did what good hitters are supposed to do."
Aramis Ramirez homered and reigning NL MVP Ryan Braun broke out of his funk with a pair of homers and three runs scored in the win. Braun entered the game 9-for-47 with a .191 batting average, no homers, four RBI and 15 strikeouts in his previous 11 contests. He also was homerless in 49 plate appearances, last going deep Aug. 1, and did not play in Wednesday's loss at Colorado.
Marco Estrada started on the hill for Milwaukee and gave up four runs in five innings. Veteran Livan Hernandez picked up the win with a scoreless inning of relief and Jim Henderson posted his third save by getting the final two outs.
The Brewers, who opened a seven-game homestand on Thursday, are scheduled to send Yovani Gallardo to the mound this evening. Gallardo has won at least 13 games in each of the past three years and is nearing that mark again. He is 11-8 with a 3.78 earned run average in 24 starts and looms for his fourth straight win and sixth in eight tries. Gallardo held the Astros to three runs in 7 2/3 innings of a 5-3 victory on Sunday and fanned eight batters.
Gallardo has pitched at least seven innings in three straight starts and the Brewers are 6-2 in his previous eight trips to the hill. The right-hander has won both of his career starts against the Phillies, spanning 13 2/3 innings to go along with a sparkling 1.98 ERA. Gallardo is 6-3 in 13 home starts in 2012.
Meanwhile, the Phillies have dropped two in a row since winning seven of 10 games and blew a 4-3 lead last night. Kevin Frandsen gave Philadelphia a short-lived 4-3 edge with a three-run double in the fifth inning, but his throwing error in the eighth led to Hart's back-breaking slam.
Cliff Lee struck out a season-best 12 batters and left the game after 7 2/3 innings with the lead. He gave up four runs -- three earned -- and three homers before the bullpen imploded. Lindblom was saddled with the loss.
"I've seen us do some good things out of our bullpen, especially lately," Phils manager Charlie Manuel said on the club's website. "The last couple days we just couldn't get it done. That's growing pains."
The Phillies are 2-2 so far on a seven-game trek and will hand the ball to Vance Worley Friday night. Worley is just 6-7 in 20 starts with a 3.97 ERA and did not record a decision in Sunday's 8-7 win over St. Louis, as he gave up four runs and nine hits in 5 1/3 innings.
Worley is 4-3 in nine road starts this season and 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA in two career starts against Milwaukee.
Philadelphia is 3-1 against the Brewers this season thanks to a sweep back in late July and is still 7-2 in the past nine matchups between the ballclubs.