Brewers eye key sweep of Reds

( - Just when it looked like the Cincinnati Reds were positioning themselves to give the Milwaukee Brewers a big push, the tables turned.

Instead, the National League Central-leading Brewers can finish off a three- game sweep -- and send the Reds to a sixth consecutive loss overall -- when the teams meet on Wednesday afternoon at Miller Park.

Milwaukee had lost 13 of 16 games heading into the series and fell into a tie with the St. Louis Cardinals at the top of the division, but the defeats of the Reds have stretched the lead back to 1 1/2 games.

Jonathan Lucroy hit two home runs, including the game-winner in the ninth inning, for the Brewers in Tuesday night's victory.

"I'm glad to help the team out, contribute and get it done," he said.

The Reds had won seven of nine games heading into the All-Star break and averaged 5.3 runs per game in that stretch, but they're 0-5 since the break and have hit .186 as a team while falling 4 1/2 games off the Brewers' front- running pace.

Cincinnati hasn't lost six straight since May 2011.

"We just haven't executed," manager Bryan Price said. "We haven't swung the bats well. We haven't gotten a quality start. And we haven't played particularly good defense, we've missed some signs and just haven't played terribly well."

Milwaukee sends Kyle Lohse to the mound to improve on an 0-1 record in two starts against the Reds this season. It's his first outing against them at Miller Park since last year, when he was 2-1 with a 1.99 earned run average in the matchup.

He was a 4-2 winner at Washington on Friday, after allowing 10 hits but just one run.

"That's being able to make pitches and battle when you're not completely on your game," manager Ron Roenicke said.

Cincinnati goes with right-hander Mike Leake, whose ERA is a bloated 5.54 in his last two starts while he's allowed 17 hits and eight runs.

He's 2-0 in five starts at Miller Park with a 4.99 ERA.

On Tuesday, Lucroy belted a lead-off shot against Sam LeCure in the bottom of the ninth inning to boost the Brewers to a 4-3 win.

Lucroy also hit a solo home run in the sixth inning. Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez clubbed back-to-back homers in the opening frame for the NL Central leaders.

Lucroy took LeCure's (1-2) 1-1 pitch over the wall in left field.

"The last two weeks have been kind of tough making solid contact," Lucroy said.

The Reds had five hits, one less than the Brewers. Cincinnati has lost a season-high eight straight road games.

"They are already disappointed," Price said. "They don't need a lecture from me about it. We are all disappointed. Nobody likes it."

Cincinnati's Homer Bailey, who retired 11 in a row at one point, was charged with four hits and three runs in six innings. Brewers starter Jimmy Nelson had a similar line, but pitched to four batters into the seventh.