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MIL@CIN: Lohse strikes out eight over five innings

He won't be headed to Minnesota for the Midsummer Classic, but Kyle Lohse will take the hill on Wednesday night against the Phillies with numbers that many of his teammates and coaches believe merited All-Star consideration.

The veteran right-hander has a 9-3 record, 3.18 ERA, 87 strikeouts and 23 walks in 119 innings this season for the Brewers. And even though Lohse, now in his 15th Major League season, has never made an All-Star team, his impressive first-half statistics aren't an aberration. Between 2011 and '13, Lohse posted a 3.19 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 41-21 record for Milwaukee and St. Louis.

Take all that into consideration, and Brewers skipper Ron Roenicke thinks Lohse could have been Minnesota-bound if the Milwaukee bullpen had secured a few more of his would-be wins.

"We've had a couple other games where he'd been winning [and the bullpen blew it]. He wins those, he's probably on it," Roenicke said.

While Lohse tries to prove he was an All-Star snub, his counterpart on Wednesday night, Roberto Hernandez, will simply be trying to be more efficient on the mound.

In 16 starts this season, Hernandez has pitched more than six innings just three times. In his last start, the right-hander actually did well to make it through 5 2/3 innings, considering the grueling 45-pitch, four-run first inning through which he had to labor. Hernandez used 117 pitches and surrendered 10 hits, five runs and four walks to the Pirates to drop his record to 3-8.

Phillies: Howard adjusting offensive approach
Ryan Howard is trying to make a significant change in the batter's box, which he hopes will get him back on track offensively.

He has lowered his hands at the suggestion of Marlon Byrd.

"Just working on getting my hands in a good slot," Howard said. "I guess my hands have crept up over the years. I think when I first kind of came in my hands were lower. It's a weird feeling, but I'm trying something new. I'm trying to get my hands in the zone faster."

Howard entered Tuesday hitting .231 with nine doubles, one triple, 14 home runs, 52 RBIs and a .703 OPS, which is 110th out of 161 qualifying hitters in baseball. His .700 OPS while hitting as a first baseman is 19th out of 25 first basemen.

"I remember I used to have them real high school, like in high school," Howard said. "And then when I got to college, my college coach had me lower them. It allowed me to be quicker in the zone. I guess just over the years it crept back up."

Brewers: Lineup change triggers offense
With Ryan Braun out of Tuesday's lineup with back issues that have lingered from this weekend, Roenicke took an opportunity to do something he's been thinking about for a while and returned to a lineup that more closely resembles the one he put out on Opening Day.

Carlos Gomez, who led off his first 42 games this season, returned to the spot after starting 37 of his last 39 games in the cleanup hole. Aramis Ramirez, who has usually batted fifth since returning from the disabled list June 3, is back in his traditional cleanup spot. Recent leadoff man Scooter Gennett took over Braun's usual No. 2 spot and Jonathan Lucroy stayed at No. 3.

Roenicke said he was hoping the offense would wake up after scoring two runs or fewer in five of its last six game prior to Tuesdays.

"I was wanting to do something, and this timing allowed me to do it, because I needed somebody to fill in where Ryan's spot was," Roenicke said. "I thought, 'I like Gomey leading off.' I think it was a good way to start out, what we did. If he gets on base, he can steal, and it seems like when he gets on base we were scoring a lot. So I think it was a good time to do it."

Roenicke's decision yielded results on Tuesday night, but it still wasn't enough. The Brewers drove home seven runs against Philly -- the most they have plated since June 28 when they scored seven against the Rockies -- in a losing effort.

Worth noting:
The Phillies are aiming to win a four-game series for just the fourth time in their last 20 tries. They have a 3-7-9 record in their previous 19 four-game series, and have a 31-46 overall mark in those games.

Philadelphia snapped its 13-game streak of being held to five runs or less with Tuesday night's nine-run outburst.

Lohse has 13 quality starts in 19 attempts this season, and the Brewers are 13-5 in his starts. Comments