Brewers try to draw closer to NL Central crown vs. Reds

Even with their recent struggles, the Brewers are still in the driver's seat in the National League Central. Recent comments from slugger Prince Fielder and reliever Francisco Rodriguez have done little to help Milwaukee put all its focus on the playoff chase.

The Brewers will try to take care of business tonight on the field when they open a three-game series with the Cincinnati Reds.

Milwaukee lost for the sixth time in eight games on Wednesday with a 6-2 loss to the Rockies. The defeat came on the same day that some comments made by both Fielder and Rodriguez began to come to the public's light.

Fielder said in a television interview set to air on Sunday that this is probably his last year with the Brewers. That isn't something you want to hear out of one of your best offensive players, even if he is a pending free agent.

Rodriguez, who was acquired from the Mets during the All-Star break, also voiced his displeasure over the number of save chances he has gotten since getting traded. He claims he was promised he would share the closer role with John Axford, but that hasn't been the case.

Milwaukee would probably prefer that Fielder and Rodriguez worry about what is happening on the field as their lead over the Cardinals for first place in the NL Central is down to 5 1/2. The Brewers magic number to clinch the division remains at eight.

"This is no time to panic," said Brewers outfielder Nyjer Morgan, who scored on a wild pitch in the sixth inning on Wednesday. "We just have to battle adversity. This is just a part of the game."

After starter Shaun Marcum struggled in his start versus the Rockies, the Brewers turn to veteran Randy Wolf to stabilize things. The lefty has done that as of late, winning six of his past seven decisions with Milwaukee going 7-2 in his last nine starts.

Wolf, though, did not get a decision on Saturday in a 3-2 loss to the Phillies after yielding two runs on nine hits over seven innings of work. He has allowed two runs or fewer in six of his last nine outings and is 12-9 with a 3.44 earned run average on the season.

The 35-year-old has faced the Reds 22 times in his career, going 10-4 with a 3.40 ERA.

Cincinnati will be trying to win a fourth straight contest tonight after taking the final three meetings of a four-game set with the Cubs. Jay Bruce hit a two-run homer in the 11th inning on Thursday to clinch an 8-6 win.

Brandon Phillips and Chris Heisey both added solo homers in the win.

"We're satisfied we got the victory," Reds manager Dusty Baker said.

Home runs could be in bulk tonight given Bronson Arroyo's struggles with keeping the ball in the park. The Reds right-hander has yielded a franchise record-tying 40 long balls on the season, including three in his last outing on Saturday versus the Rockies.

Arroyo recorded just three outings in that no-decision, getting charged with six runs and seven hits in a game his club eventually lost, 12-7. He is 1-5 in 13 games since a three-start win streak from June 13-25 and 8-11 with a 5.28 ERA on the season.

"[Arroyo] was leaving the ball up, and that doesn't favor well in this ballpark," Baker said.

The 34-year-old righty is 11-7 with a 3.66 ERA lifetime versus Milwaukee, winning a pair of starts against the club this season.

Cincinnati has won eight of its 13 meetings with the Brewers this season.