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Game Thread #133: Brewers (62-70) at Reds (77-55)

With a win today, the Brewers would salvage one game in Cincinnati. With a loss, they help the Cardinals miss the playoffs.

I'm not quite ready to call it "win-win," but the potential silver lining here is brighter than it is on most days.

Current Series

Reds lead the series 2-0

Mon 08/30 4 - 5 loss
Tue 08/31 WP: Sam LeCure (2 - 4)
LP: Yovani Gallardo (11 - 7)
4 - 8 loss

Milwaukee Brewers
@ Cincinnati Reds

Wednesday, Sep 1, 2010, 6:10 PM CDT
Great American Ball Park

Chris Narveson vs Johnny Cueto

Mostly clear. Winds blowing out to left field at 5-15 m.p.h. Game time temperature around 90.

Complete Coverage >

Follow the jump for tonight's pitching matchup, lineup and more!

Johnny Cueto (3.49 ERA, 4.08 FIP) is making his first start since an excellent outing on Friday, when he limited the Cubs to a run on six hits in eight innings, striking out eight and walking none. Consistency has been his issue lately, though: Three times in his last six starts he's allowed one earned run or less, and in the other three he's allowed 13 in 13.2 innings. He's facing the Brewers for the second time this season: On May 17 he held them to one run on seven hits over seven innings.

Cueto isn't striking many guys out this season (just 6.6 per nine innings), but he's reduced his walk rate (just 2.8/9, down from 3.2 for his career), and he's also allowing fewer hits (8.6/9, down from 9.0 career). He throws a 93.2 mph average fastball, but uses it just 56.9% of the time, relying heavily on a slider (26.2% of pitches). Five Brewers have faced him ten or more times, and two should be pretty excited about seeing him again:

Ryan Braun 18 .176 .222 .235 .458
Prince Fielder 18 .353 .389 .882 1.271
Corey Hart 18 .375 .444 .938 1.382
Rickie Weeks 13 .167 .231 .333 .564
Craig Counsell 10 .143 .400 .143 .543

He'll face Chris Narveson (5.52 ERA, 4.55 FIP), who is only the third Brewer pitcher ever to win at least ten games with an ERA over 5.50, joining Manny Parra in 2009 and Wayne Franklin in 2003. Narveson picked up that tenth win his last time out, holding the Pirates to two runs on seven hits in seven innings, striking out eight and walking just one. It was easily Narveson's best performance of the last two months: Since July 1 he's posted a 6.06 ERA in 52 innings and allowed opposing batters to hit .293/.329/.500.

Narveson is facing the Reds for the second time this season: On July 28 he picked up the loss, allowing three runs on six hits over five innings. As you'd expect from a lefty, Narveson struggles to get righties out: He's allowed them to hit .307/.362/.529 off of him this season, compared to .226/.291/.314 for lefties. No current Reds have faced him ten times or more, but Joey Votto is 4-for-5 with a home run.

Via Adam McCalvy, here's tonight's lineup:

Rickie Weeks 2B
Corey Hart RF
Ryan Braun LF
Prince Fielder 1B
Casey McGehee 3B
Lorenzo Cain CF
Alcides Escobar SS
Jonathan Lucroy C
Chris Narveson P

And in the bullpen:

Manny Parra pitched two innings (32 pitches) last night.
Todd Coffey pitched one inning (11 pitches) last night.
Kameron Loe pitched two innings (41 pitches) Monday.
Zach Braddock pitched one inning (21 pitches) Monday.
Trevor Hoffman pitched .2 innings (17 pitches) Monday.
Mike McClendon pitched one inning (12 pitches) Monday.
John Axford hasn't pitched since Saturday.

Enjoy the game!