Brewers look to bounce back against Royals

MLB

Eric Lauer will be working with extra rest as the Milwaukee Brewers wrap up a two-game interleague series against the visiting Kansas City Royals on Wednesday afternoon.

The Royals, who had lost 17 of their past 21, won Tuesday for just the second time in eight games. Kansas City beat the Brewers 5-2 behind Ryan O’Hearn’s two-run, pinch-hit homer in the seventh inning.

Milwaukee lost for the first time since the All-Star break after winning three straight at Cincinnati.

Lauer (3-4, 3.83 ERA), who has never faced the Royals, originally was scheduled to start Tuesday, but he flip-flopped assignments with Brett Anderson, gaining additional time to deal with a finger problem.

“Eric’s had a little bit of a fingernail issue, so, because we can, we’re just going to give him an extra day,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said before Tuesday’s game. “As we monitored it through the weekend, we thought this was the best way to go.”

Right-hander Brad Keller (6-9, 5.97 ERA) gets the nod for the Royals. After allowing at least four runs in each of his last five starts in June, Keller has allowed just three runs in 14 innings over his first two starts in July.

Keller is 0-1 with a 6.55 ERA in three career appearances vs. Milwaukee, including two starts.

While the Royals are 21 games under .500 against American League opponents at 31-52, they improved to 7-3 vs. National League teams this season.

“I think that guys are still out there playing with 100 percent effort, no matter what the standings say, no matter what the wins and losses say,” said Kansas City’s Mike Minor, who got the victory Tuesday, allowing two runs (one earned) on five hits in six innings. “There’s a bunch of guys in the clubhouse that don’t really care. We know that we haven’t played well, but guys aren’t just going to give up.”

Minor (7-8) had lost four consecutive starts and posted a 10.80 ERA over that span before Tuesday.

“We had a little bit of a break with the All-Star break, and we’ve got some off days coming up, so guys probably feel rejuvenated a little bit,” Minor said. “It doesn’t matter who we play. We’re still going to try to get as many wins as we can, even though sometimes it probably doesn’t look like it, but guys are trying.”

Although the NL Central-leading Brewers are 16 games above .500, their offense remains inconsistent.

After scoring both of their runs in the second inning Tuesday, they left runners on second and third. In the seventh, they loaded the bases with one out and had Willy Adames, one of their hottest hitters, at the plate. However, Adames bounced into an inning-ending double play.

“He hit the ball hard, just hit it right at him,” Counsell said. “Just didn’t get it in the right spot tonight.”

Milwaukee is 47-8 when scoring four runs or more but 9-32 when held to three runs or fewer.

The offense should be bolstered by the return of leadoff hitter Kolten Wong, who has been on the injured list three times and has played in just 56 games. The second baseman, activated off the IL on Friday, has five hits in 14 at-bats since his return and is hitting .295 overall.

–Field Level Media

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