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CIN@SF: Bailey allows three hits in dominant start

Though they currently enjoy a six-game lead in the National League Central over fourth-place Cincinnati, the Brewers haven't been able to solve the Reds much this year, and on Saturday, Matt Garza will be the next pitcher to try when he takes the mound.

The Reds have topped Milwaukee in six of their eight meetings this year, including a 4-2 victory on Friday. Garza was on the mound for one of those losses, a 6-5 game on June 13 when Garza allowed just one run in a no-decision. In his most recent start, Garza earned the win, allowing four earned runs over 6 2/3 against Colorado.

The Brewers will look to Ryan Braun to help lead their offense and snap a four-game losing streak that matches their longest of the season. Though he's struggled at times this year, Braun had an eight-game hitting streak before losing it Friday night and has moved into the top 10 in the National League in slugging percentage.

"There's no question he's swinging the bat better," said Brewers manager Ron Roenicke of Braun. "He's lined out a lot, too. I think with the base hits and getting on base and giving a lot better quality of at-bats, we're getting closer to where he normally is. That's a good sign, and hopefully he continues doing this. We need him in that offense to really do the things we want to do. He's got to hit."

On Saturday, Cincinnati will look to Homer Bailey, who's coming off a sterling start in San Francisco. He went nine scoreless innings, allowing three hits and only one walk to get his eighth win. He's been less stellar in his career against the Brewers, though, with a 5.24 ERA and 4-7 record in 18 starts. He has a win and a no-decision against Miwaukee this season.

With the season already in its second half, the Reds certainly recognize the importance of winning this weekend's games against the division leader.

"We have an opportunity to really gain some ground within the division," said Jay Bruce. "[Former Reds manager] Dusty [Baker] always used to say that the couple of series right before the All-Star break were really pivotal to how you win in the second half."

Brewers: Crew hopeful for Davis' return on Saturday
Milwaukee left fielder Khris Davis has been sidelined since he strained his left shoulder sliding into second base last Tuesday in Toronto, but the Brewers say he's set to return on Saturday for the middle game of this series against the Reds.

"We'll see how my workout goes today, but I already took some swings in the cage and it's just light soreness there," Davis said early on Friday. "I didn't feel like I had to change my swing up to swing. Just a little soreness there."

Davis took batting practice Friday and was available to pinch hit, but the Brewers want him to be closer to full health before starting a game. Roenicke expects to have Davis back in the starting lineup Saturday afternoon.

The Brewers recalled Logan Schafer from Triple-A Nashville for help in the outfield.

Reds: Hamilton stays hot against Milwaukee
Billy Hamilton may be best known for his speed on the basepaths, but his games against Milwaukee have brought out his inner slugger. Of the five home runs he's hit this year, three have come in his last three games against Milwaukee, including a two-run shot on Friday night.

After hitting one home run in his first 55 games this season, Hamilton now has four in his last 25. He was also named the National League's Rookie of the Month for June.

For the month, Hamilton led all NL rookies in steals (14), runs (18), hits (36), doubles (10), home runs (three) and was second in RBIs (18), average (.327) and OPS (.848).

"I think I'm more relaxed," Hamilton said. "Lately, I've been seeing a lot more pitches than I had been seeing. I'm getting a feel of how the pitcher is going to pitch me. It's the second time around [against some teams]. I'm not just swinging at a lot of bad pitches now. I saw how they pitched me the first time and what I did against those pitchers. Seeing pitches the second time around is good."

Worth noting
• The Brewers' loss Friday means that Milwaukee has lost five straight games on the Fourth of July and is 15-30 all-time on the holiday.

• Jonathan Lucroy is the only qualifying player in the National League with more extra-base hits than strikeouts.

• The Reds have won or tied nine of their last 13 series against Milwaukee; a win Saturday would guarantee a win in this series.

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