The Milwaukee Brewers hope an effective day’s work on Thursday will change their direction heading into a three-game series beginning Friday night against the visiting Cincinnati Reds.

The Brewers bounced back from a 2-5 trip with a doubleheader sweep of the San Francisco Giants on Thursday, pulling within 2 1/2 games of the Philadelphia Phillies for the final National League wild-card spot.

Milwaukee (73-65) won the twin bill’s opener 2-1 behind Corbin Burnes, who allowed one run on three hits over eight innings while striking out 14. The Brewers took the nightcap 4-2 as the bullpen covered seven solid innings after starter Freddy Peralta exited due to right-shoulder fatigue.

Cincinnati (55-80) just took two of three from the host Chicago Cubs, including a 4-3 win Thursday when the Reds scored two runs in the ninth inning.

Brewers right-hander Jason Alexander (2-2, 5.03 ERA) will oppose Reds left-hander Nick Lodolo (3-5, 3.95) in a battle of rookies in the series opener.

Alexander will make his 17th appearance and 10th start of the season. He is 2-2 with a 4.21 ERA as a starter, compared with a 7.47 ERA out of the bullpen.

Alexander started his past two outings, including a Sunday loss at Arizona in which he allowed three runs in 4 2/3 innings.

“I don’t feel like I had my best stuff going for me,” he said after the 5-1 defeat against the Diamondbacks. “I think I fell behind the count a lot of times, so I just kind of put more pressure on myself.”

Alexander has faced the Reds once, picking up his first major league victory in the Brewers’ 7-3 win at Cincinnati on June 18. He gave up three runs (two earned) in 5 2/3 innings.

Lodolo is 0-2 with a 3.32 ERA over his past seven starts. He did not get a decision his most recent time out despite allowing just two hits over six scoreless innings with a career-high nine strikeouts in the Reds’ 8-4 loss to the Colorado Rockies on Sunday.

“The fastball at the top today was probably the best my fastball’s been, I think, since the beginning of the year,” Lodolo said after that game. “I think that was probably a big reason why.”

Lodolo has made one start this season against Milwaukee, allowing three runs in 4 2/3 innings during a no-decision in a 7-5 Reds win on Aug. 6.

Milwaukee is 8-4 this season against Cincinnati, with two series remaining between the teams.

Brewers manager Craig Counsell said Peralta could be headed for the injured list, and the team already has a thin rotation. Left-hander Eric Lauer, who has a team-high 10 victories, allowed seven runs in 2 2/3 innings before leaving with elbow tightness during an 8-4 loss at Colorado on Wednesday.

Counsell said of Peralta, “It’s really just fatigue that’s kind of not letting him get after it, so to speak. Not having any pain, necessarily, but we’re likely headed for an IL stint there because we need to give him rest and strengthen him and then get him back out there.”

Milwaukee, which trails front-running St. Louis by eight games in the NL Central, plays 20 of its final 26 games at home. The Brewers have four games left against the Cardinals, but Milwaukee also will host two more division leaders, the New York Yankees and New York Mets.

–Field Level Media