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CIN@MIL: Nelson strikes out five over six-plus frames

The Brewers will try to win their second straight series and cushion their National League Central lead when two rookie pitchers square off on Sunday at Miller Park.

Making just his fifth Major League start, right-hander Jimmy Nelson will take the ball for Milwaukee. The 25-year-old pitched a career-high six innings in his last outing and took a no-decision as he allowed three runs on four hits to the Reds while striking out five.

It was Nelson's seventh career appearance (third of 2014) and was a nice bounce back after he gave up six earned runs in 4 1/3 innings against St. Louis on July 12.

"It's an adjustment any time you are at a new level," Nelson said. "You have to take baby steps. I've been working on stuff between starts. There are definitely some positives to build on."

Jacob deGrom will start for the Mets, and the righty has been dazzling in his last three outings. deGrom is 3-0 with a 0.86 ERA and 26 strikeouts during that span, and he has gone seven innings in each of those starts.

deGrom has consistently turned in quality starts since his promotion to the big leagues in mid-May. He's become one of the NL's premier rookie arms, leading first-year players in the Senior Circuit with 79 strikeouts.

"He's always flown under the radar -- still is," Mets manager Terry Collins said after deGrom's last start. "This guy's got numbers to match up with any rookie in the league and you never hear his name mentioned."

Mets: Collins hopes day off from starting will spark struggling Lagares
Collins said that Juan Lagares, who was out of the starting lineup on Saturday, would get some work in the batting cages.

"I thought a day might relax him a little bit," Collins said. "They're gonna do some stuff today in the cage with him. We've got to get him back on track. He's scuffling right now, and for a young guy, he needs a break."

Lagares, who struck out in a pinch-hit appearance on Saturday, is 3-for-29 with no extra-base hits since the All-Star break.

Brewers: Melvin "aggressive" but doesn't want to force deals
Sunday marks the Brewers' final home game before Thursday's non-waiver Trade Deadline, and even with the Crew pursuing its first playoff berth since 2011, general manager Doug Melvin said he doesn't feel pressure to make a deal.

"I've been pretty aggressive as far as contacting teams," Melvin said. "I've been doing it for over a week now. There's just not the so-called availability without asking for people we don't want to give up."

The Brewers have a three-game lead in the NL Central, a division which they've been atop for nearly the entire season.

Worth noting
• Milwaukee and New York are tied for third in the Majors with four wins when trailing after eight innings.

• Nine of Mets first baseman Lucas Duda's 17 home runs this year have come in the seventh inning or later.

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