The Brewers haven't experienced much success at Great American Ball Park lately, so they could use all the help they can get when they begin a three-game series there on Friday night.
Fortunately for Milwaukee, that help just might be on the way.
All-Star center fielder Carlos Gomez, out since suffering an injury against the Reds last Thursday, is tentatively scheduled to return to the lineup against Cincinnati for the series opener, according to manager Ron Roenicke. Milwaukee will be trying to turn around its fortunes at a park where it is 8-24 since the start of 2010, including 1-5 this year.
Gomez sprained his right knee making a leaping catch and crashing into a wall to rob the Reds' Brandon Phillips of a hit during his team's four-game split last week at Miller Park. An MRI was negative, and Gomez improved over the course of this week, to the point of running the bases on Wednesday morning.
"I really want to [play], but it's not what I want. It's what I'm feeling," Gomez said before the Brewers' series finale against the Cardinals on Wednesday afternoon. "I still have some sensation. I can play like that, but we'll see."
When the Brewers and Reds tangled in Milwaukee last week, both got stellar pitching performances. Yovani Gallardo led the Brewers to a win on Saturday, and Homer Bailey did the same for the Reds on Sunday.
With the Brewers getting an off-day on Thursday and the Reds finishing their series against the D-backs, Gallardo and Bailey wound up on a collision course for Friday's contest.
It hasn't been an easy season for Gallardo (9-9, 4.68 ERA), including a recent stint on the disabled list for a left hamstring strain. But the right-hander came off in time to toss 6 1/3 scoreless innings against the Reds on Saturday, giving up three hits and two walks while striking out three.
"Obviously, it hasn't been the year I wanted to have, but that's in the past," said Gallardo, who'll be looking to get to double-digit wins for the fifth straight year. "Just focus on the fresh start, and today was a good step forward for the last month and a half of the season, however many starts I have, to go out there and finish off strong and be consistent. You always want to finish on a positive note."
Bailey (8-10, 3.68) has enjoyed a slightly more productive 2013 campaign, but his history against the Brewers was ugly heading into Sunday's matchup. The righty was 1-7 with a 6.03 ERA in 13 career starts vs. Milwaukee, and had surrendered 10 runs on 18 hits in 12 2/3 innings to them this season.
He turned that trend around by limiting Milwaukee to one run on three hits in eight innings, with one walk and eight strikeouts, for his third straight win. It was Bailey's sixth start this year with at least eight innings pitched, best on the team.
"For some reason, this team's usually done pretty well against me," Bailey said of the Brewers. "Since we see these guys so many times, I'm starting to get a better feel for it."
Brewers: Gomez a key cog
Gomez leads the Brewers with 18 home runs and is second with 55 RBIs, 65 runs and 30 steals, in addition to his sparkling defense in center. He wants to help Milwaukee finish strong, despite being well outside the playoff picture.
"It's no matter if the team is in the race or not, we need to finish with a better record [than their current pace] and more expectations," Gomez said. "We need to know we're better than we have played so far. And we've proved it over the past few weeks -- we've been playing better. The young guys have been doing their jobs."
The Brewers are only one game under .500 since the start of July.
• Reliever Rob Wooten, who was placed on the paternity list on Wednesday, is expected to rejoin the team on Friday. His wife delivered the couple's first child, a daughter. The Brewers are also expected to recall outfielder Caleb Gindl from Triple-A Nashville.
Reds: Broxton lands on DL, to undergo surgery
The Reds placed setup man Jonathan Broxton on the 15-day disabled list Thursday with a flexor mass strain in his right forearm, an injury that will require surgery. To replace him, the club selected the contract of right-handed reliever Nick Christiani from Triple-A Louisville. Starting pitcher Johnny Cueto was moved to the 60-day DL to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Christiani.
From June 15-Aug. 9, Broxton was on the DL with a flexor mass strain in his right elbow.
"We had just gotten big Broxton back," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "He said he was feeling great. He was throwing the ball 97-98 [mph]. It's kind of a downer. You can get down, but you can't stay down. You've got to figure out a way to keep rolling. This is a pretty big blow. I was telling the other guys we have to pick it up as a team."
In 34 games this season, Broxton is 2-2 with a 4.11 ERA, 27 hits, 12 walks and 25 strikeouts over 30 2/3 innings. The Reds don't have a timetable for his return.
• The Reds lead the season series with the Brewers, 8-5.