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MIL@STL: Lohse fans nine, holds Cards to three runs

Kyle Lohse is only in his second season with the Brewers, but he's no stranger to the National League Central. Having pitched for the Cardinals from 2008-12 before signing with Milwaukee, Lohse has had plenty of experience facing all teams from this division -- including the Reds.

If Lohse can build on what he has done so far this year, and what he did vs. the Reds last year, the right-hander should be feeling pretty optimistic about his start Sunday in Cincinnati.

The 35-year-old veteran starter was 2-1 with a 1.88 ERA against the Reds in 2013, allowing six earned runs over 28 2/3 innings. His career numbers vs. Cincinnati are pretty impressive, too -- he has made 15 starts, compiling a 5-4 record with a 2.89 ERA. Twelve of 15 were quality starts.

Lohse has pitched well at Great American Ball Park, even though it is traditionally known as a hitters' haven. He doesn't have a specific reason why he's comfortable here -- over 22 career games, he has compiled an 8-7 record and a 3.55 ERA -- except to say that sometimes repetition is key.

"I think I've had pretty good success in this ballpark, going back to even when I played for them," Lohse said of the Reds, for whom he pitched in 2006-07. "You feel comfortable sometimes in a park no matter what the dimensions are and this is one of them. I've been fortunate enough to this point to pretty much execute my game plan most times here. There's no real secret to it. I know what I want to get accomplished."

He'll have a formidable mound opponent on Sunday in Alfredo Simon, who has four wins in five starts and is pitching to the tune of a 1.60 ERA. He ranks among the NL leaders in ERA (4th), wins (tied for 3rd) and opponents' batting average (.183, 4th).

Simon even braved several rain delays in his last outing to beat the Cubs, going back out after the second one to complete his six-inning start. He yielded two runs in a winning effort.

In his career against the Brewers, Simon is 4-5 with a 3.46 ERA, over nine games -- all relief appearances.

Brewers: Ramirez scuffles, then homers
A lot of the talk before Saturday's game involved Aramis Ramirez and his offensive struggles, a concern for a hard-hitting Brewers club that hasn't exactly been hitting the proverbial cover off the ball of late.

Maybe all it took was for someone to ask Ramirez about his struggles. A few hours after the subject was broached by a reporter, the veteran third baseman launched a solo homer to left in the second inning of Saturday's game.

Reds: Hamilton working to return
The Reds' lineup looks a lot different without speedy center fielder Billy Hamilton at the top, but the injured rookie isn't ready to return after spraining two knuckles on his left hand on Thursday. He's still having a hard time gripping the bat.

He is, however, available to pinch-run and possibly play as a defensive replacement.

In Hamilton's absence, Chris Heisey has assumed the leadoff spot and has been playing center field.

Worth noting
• Sunday's first pitch is scheduled for 4:10 p.m. EST to accommodate the Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon. The finish line for the full and half marathons is located near the media entrance at Great American Ball Park. Reds Director of Media Relations Rob Butcher is among the scheduled participants in the half marathon, as is Reds MLB.com reporter Mark Sheldon.

• The Brewers own a 12-4 road record. Last year, the team did not earn its 12th road win until June 15, when they were 12-19. They won their 13th road game on June 19 and had a 13-21 record at that time.

• Brewers starting pitchers have produced a Major League-leading 24 quality starts in 31 games this season, including 11 of their last 13 games.

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