Brewers try to stay in playoff hunt in finale with Reds

The Milwaukee Brewers have a chance to make up more ground in the wild card race Thursday afternoon when they wrap a three-game series with the NL Central-champion Cincinnati Reds.

After dropping the opener of this series, the Brewers bounced back with just their second victory in eight games at Cincinnati this season, taking Wednesday's meeting 8-1. Ryan Braun, Jonathan Lucroy and Norichika Aoki all homered in the rout.

Milwaukee's victory, coupled with St. Louis' loss to the Houston Astros, moved the Brewers to within 3 1/2 games of the Cardinals for the NL's second wild card position. The Brewers have a game in hand over the Cards, which they will use up today in their final road game of the regular season.

"You never know what can happen," said Lucroy. "All we can do is go out and play hard every day and take care of our business. It might not work out, but we have to keep playing hard until the end."

Wily Peralta's first career start against the Reds will be a big one as the young Milwaukee hurler takes the hill for the finale.

Peralta won the first two decisions of his career, but the 23-year-old is coming off a loss at the Washington Nationals on Saturday. He was touched for three runs on five hits and four walks, also striking out four before exiting after 2 2/3 innings of work and 73 pitches.

The righty is 2-1 with a 3.04 earned run average in five games this season, including four starts.

For the Reds, they fell a game behind the Nationals for the best record in the majors. Cincinnati had won six of eight and today turns to Mat Latos, who tries to match his personal best for wins in a season.

Latos won 14 games with the San Diego Padres in 2010 and brings a 13-4 record through 31 starts into this meeting, as well as a 3.60 ERA.

The right-hander won his third straight decision with a solid outing versus the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday, hurling eight scoreless innings and scattering six hits -- all singles -- without a walk while striking out seven.

Latos, who hasn't lost since Aug. 24, struck out eight in his last meeting with the Brewers on Aug. 8. The 24-year-old did not get a decision, yielding a run over seven innings. He is 1-2 with a 2.60 ERA in four lifetime encounters.