Brewers-Phillies Preview

While most pitchers' success is determined by command, Jimmy Nelson has risen to ace status for the Milwaukee Brewers by being effectively wild.

That could be a wise game plan as he faces a struggling Philadelphia Phillies team that hasn't been patient enough to take many free passes.

Nelson will try to extend a strong three-week stretch Friday night when the Brewers seek their fifth straight road win and ninth in row at Philadelphia.

Nelson (5-3, 2.88 ERA) has come of age in his fourth season, leading Milwaukee starters in wins, ERA, strikeouts (59) and innings (72). The right-hander, however, has certainly taken an unusual path to get there.

The 26-year-old Nelson ranks in the majors' top 15 with 28 walks and 14.6 pitches thrown per inning. He's hit at least one batter in each of his last five.

"When guys step in the box, they know they can't really bank on a pitch where they're looking at," catcher Jonathan Lucroy told the league's official website. "He has a lot of movement within the zone. He throws strikes, but they're not going to hit my spot every time; they're going to be kind of spread around."

Nelson has been outstanding with a 1.57 ERA over his last four outings. He allowed six of the first seven batters to reach base Sunday before settling in and giving up two runs over 7 1/3 innings in a 5-4 home win over Cincinnati.

Nelson has pitched into the eighth inning in three of his last four starts.

He could fare well after Milwaukee (25-29) grabbed a 4-1 win in the opener of this four-game series. Entering Thursday, Philadelphia ranked near the bottom of MLB with 129 walks and 3.76 pitches seen per plate appearance.

The Phillies (26-28) also have totaled 12 runs, batted .189 and struck out 63 times during a season-worst seven-game losing streak. Maikel Franco and rookie Tommy Joseph combined for four of the team's five hits in the opener.

Franco, who hit his team-high ninth homer Thursday, is 9 for 17 with four long balls and nine RBIs in the four meetings with the Brewers this season.

Nelson went 1-0 with a 4.63 ERA in two starts versus Philadelphia last season. Odubel Herrera has hit two doubles in his three career at-bats in the matchup.

Vince Velasquez (5-2, 3.63) leads the Phillies in victories, but he's hoping to recapture his early season form. Since going 4-1 with a 1.44 ERA in his first five starts, the right-hander has gone 1-1 with a 6.31 mark over his past five.

Velasquez will try to rebound after allowing a career-high seven runs and nine hits over 4 2/3 innings in Sunday's 7-2 road loss to the Chicago Cubs.

''It's one of those days they put the bat on the ball, it falls into play and you've got to just continue pitching,'' Velasquez said.

He'll get his first look at a Milwaukee team that has won seven of 10 overall and looks to extend a franchise-record winning streak at Philadelphia.

Jonathan Villar and Chris Carter homered and Lucroy added two hits for the Brewers in the opener. Lucroy is 11 for 21 with three homers and 11 RBIs over his last six games and has gone 16 for 36 in his past nine against the Phillies.