Although his struggles are part of why the Milwaukee Brewers are in the midst of a lost season, Matt Garza believes he still can get something out of the experience.
Perhaps a matchup with a team that has gone 19 innings without scoring can help his cause.
The right-hander hopes to avoid an MLB-high 15th defeat Saturday night when the host Brewers try to put some space between themselves and the NL Central-worst Cincinnati Reds.
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After posting an ERA under four in eight straight seasons, Garza has reached a career high in losses to go along with his highest ERA since his 2006 rookie season. He's allowing a career-high 1.41 homers per nine innings while his 1.92 strikeout-to-walk ratio is his worst since '06.
Since posting a 2.56 ERA over a five-start stretch after coming off the disabled list, Garza (6-14, 5.26 ERA) has given up 12 runs and 16 hits over 9 2/3 innings while losing his last two outings.
"I just have to keep going, keep grinding," he told MLB's official website. "Like I've said before, this is not a year I'm going to brag about. But it's going to be the year I'll learn the most from."
Garza has pitched well against the Reds since joining Milwaukee, going 3-0 with a 1.26 ERA in four starts. He allowed two solo home runs over 6 2/3 innings in an 8-3 road win April 29.
Todd Frazier went deep off Garza in that contest, and he's 5 for 17 with three home runs lifetime in the matchup. Frazier, though, is in the midst of a 12-game homer drought.
The Reds (52-75), 1 1/2 games behind the Brewers (54-74), hope to avoid getting shut out for a third straight game as well as a fifth straight defeat. Brandon Phillips had two of the team's five hits in Friday's 5-0 defeat that dropped Cincinnati to 1-13 since Aug. 14.
Jay Bruce went 0 for 4, leaving him with a .103 average and 23 strikeouts in his last 23 games. However, he's 9 for 27 with two home runs and three doubles lifetime when facing Garza.
"We have to create more opportunities," manager Bryan Price said. "It's been a challenge not just for this stretch, but for most of this season and much of last season."
After allowing nine runs and 18 hits over 7 1/3 innings in his last two starts at home, Keyvius Sampson (2-2, 5.55) will get a chance to rebound where he's seemed to feel most comfortable. The rookie right-hander has posted a 2.45 ERA in winning both his outings on the road.
He'll get his first look at a Milwaukee team seeking a franchise-best sixth straight win in the all-time series and seventh in nine home games overall. Domingo Santana homered and Adam Lind and Jonathan Lucroy had two hits apiece Friday to help the Brewers end a four-game losing streak.
Lind is batting .452 with four home runs and 10 RBI over his last eight games versus the Reds, while Santana has three homers in six since getting called up Aug. 21.
"It's always good to give a good first impression," said Santana, who came over from Houston in the Carlos Gomez trade. "But, I just try to keep everything simple."