Reds third baseman Todd Frazier is confident in his team's chances at competing for the National League Central title, and for good reason, as Cincinnati is nipping at the heels of division leader Pittsburgh and second place St. Louis.
"At the end of the day, at the end of the year," Frazier said, "we'll be in that hunt, for sure."
However, losing a four-game series to the bottom-dwelling Brewers would not be a step in the right direction. On Sunday, the Reds will look to avoid such a fate after dropping two of the first three in a four-game set at Miller Park.
The Reds knocked off the Brewers to open the series on Thursday, but lost when Aroldis Chapman gave up a two-run walk-off homer on Friday. The next day, Cincinnati was stymied offensively and lost its second straight to Milwaukee, 2-0.
After winning five in a row entering Friday, the Reds hope to get back on track behind the right arm of Homer Bailey. But Bailey's track record against the Brewers doesn't bode well for Cincinnati on Sunday. In 13 career starts vs. Milwaukee, Bailey is just 1-7 with a 6.03 ERA. Through two starts this season against the Crew, the 27-year-old hurler has given up 10 earned runs in 12 2/3 innings.
On the other side of the mound, Wily Peralta has recently been one of the lone bright spots for the Brewers, and he'll hope he can continue to shine on Sunday.
Peralta lost his most recent start despite going the distance and giving up just two runs against Seattle. He is responsible for each of the Brewers' last two complete games, and after starting his first full season in the Majors going 4-8 with a 6.08 ERA, the 24-year-old right-hander has built a 2.10 ERA in his last 10 starts.
Peralta said the key to his recent success has been the improvement in his slider, which he's been working on all season. Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke said he's seen a great deal of growth in Peralta, who figures to be a key piece in the future of the franchise.
"I think it takes a lot of starts and a lot of innings to figure out things, and he's starting to get it, along with the confidence," Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke said. "When you get in a tight spot, it's not always, 'Throw it as hard as you can.' He's starting to figure those things out, and hopefully he continues to grow that way."
Reds: Chapman's status unknown for Sunday
One day after blowing his fifth save of the season on a two-run walk-off, Reds closer Aroldis Chapman wasn't needed in Saturday's 2-0 loss. But manager Dusty Baker also wouldn't indicate whether Chapman, who has pitched five of the last seven days, would be used on Sunday if a save situation presented itself when the skipper was asked about it on Saturday.
"To answer your question, I really can't tell you," Baker said. "How we use him is almost how we use all our relievers here. We try not to use them three days in a row. Sometimes you can't help it. Sometimes you've got to use a guy three days in a row."
Baker said opposing hitters have studied Chapman, who is known for his triple-digit velocity, making it harder for him to rely on his heater to record outs. However, Baker also did not appear panicked by Chapman's blown save or his 2-3 mph drop in velocity from Thursday, when he was consistently over 100 mph.
"Other than the home runs, he's been very good," Baker said. "I mean, where would we be without Chapman? Don't forget now, most of the free world wanted us to make him a starter and then have [Jonathan] Broxton the closer and leave [Friday starter] Mike Leake by the wayside. I think most of us have forgotten about that. Where would we be without Leake as a starter, and where would we be without Chapman as the closer?"
Brewers: Gomez improving, possibly a few days from return
Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez has been out of action since crashing into the wall and spraining his right knee on Thursday, but he has continued to improve by the day.
An MRI scan on Friday confirmed the injury and that there was no significant damage. Although Gomez is feeling better, the Brewers expect him to be at least a few days away from playing, and they hope to know more in the coming days.
"Dan [Wright, the Brewers' head athletic trainer] told me today and tomorrow are going to be really important as to if we can go through this thing without [placing Gomez on the disabled list]," Roenicke said. "Maybe he's just out, whatever, four, five, six days. We'll know a lot more today and [Sunday]."
• The Brewers will look to win three straight Sunday for the first time since July 29-30 against the Cubs.
• The Reds aim to avoid losing three straight for the first time since dropping five in a row July 26-30.
• Milwaukee is seeking just its third series win against the Reds in the last nine tries.
Jeremy Warnemuende is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.