Reigning National League MVP Ryan Braun just received an off day because of his recent struggles at the plate and the Milwaukee Brewers hope it was enough to get their slugger back on track.
Braun and the Brewers are back home and will take on the Philadelphia Phillies tonight in the opener of a four-game series at Miller Park. In his last 11 games, Braun is 9-for-47 with a .191 batting average, no homers, four RBI and 15 strikeouts. He also is homerless in 49 plate appearances, last going deep Aug. 1, and could be back in the lineup Thursday.
"I've said it many times: It's all part of this game," Braun said on the team's website a few days ago. "You go through stretches where you're really good, stretches where you're not so good, and you try to keep your sanity in those bad times."
Braun did not play in Wednesday's tough 7-6 loss at Colorado as the Brewers suffered a three-game sweep. Jim Henderson couldn't perform much comic relief in giving up singles to Wilin Rosario and Eric Young Jr., before Tyler Colvin's double brought both runners home for the win.
Mark Rogers drew the start and put the Brewers in a hole by allowing five runs and seven hits in six innings.
"Same thing, we played good baseball but gave it up at the end," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "We had chances offensively to score runs, but we're not getting that big hit we need to get."
Nyjer Morgan drove in three runs and Rickie Weeks had three hits for Milwaukee, which has dropped three in a row and five of six games since sweeping powerhouse Cincinnati.
The Brewers have won six in a row at home and look to Marco Estrada to pitch them to a seventh straight victory when he toes the rubber tonight. Estrada is still searching for his first win of the season and is 0-5 with a 4.36 earned run average in 20 games (14 starts). The right-hander has no record and a 7.84 ERA in seven career meetings, one of which was a start, with Philadelphia.
Estrada allowed five runs in four innings of a 7-6 loss at Philadelphia on July 26.
Meanwhile, the Phillies were aiming for a three-game sweep of the Miami Marlins yesterday afternoon, but dropped a 9-2 decision even with Roy Halladay on the mound. Halladay gave up three runs and six hits in seven innings to fall to 6-7 on the year. He allowed the go-ahead home run to former Phillie Greg Dobbs in the sixth inning.
"You know, it was just kind of in his bat speed," Halladay said. "I really just left it up a little bit. It was kind of the one I want back. That was kind of the big one."
Ty Wigginton homered and drove in both runs for the Phils, who entered Wednesday having won three straight and seven of 10 games.
The last time Cliff Lee pitched against Milwaukee he was bailed out by the offense and bullpen. Lee draws the start tonight and did not record a decision in a 7-6 win over the Brewers on July 24, when he yielded six runs and 12 hits in seven innings. He is 0-1 with a 5.54 earned run average in four career starts against Milwaukee.
Lee lost his last appearance on Saturday in a 4-1 setback to St. Louis and was tagged for four runs and 10 hits in seven innings, falling to 2-7 with a 3.85 ERA in 20 starts.
Philadelphia swept the Brewers in three games at Citizens Bank Park from July 23-25, all by scores of 7-6. The Phillies have won seven of the last eight matchups in this series.