(SportsNetwork.com) - Suddenly, the race in the National League Central is beginning to simmer and the Milwaukee Brewers are getting hot under the collar.
The Brewers have lost three in a row and seven of eight games, and their lead atop the NL Central is down to three games ahead of St. Louis and 3 1/2 in front of Pittsburgh.
Milwaukee suffered a 9-7 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday in the second portion of a four-game series and hopes to bounce back tonight. Leading 5-1 after the first inning thanks to a grand slam by Lyle Overbay, the Philly bats came alive with a five-run second and never relinquished the lead.
Wily Peralta was dealt the loss for allowing all nine runs in 4 1/3 innings.
"(Peralta) wasn't on his game. We need to get him back on his game," said Brewers manager Ron Roenicke. "We need to get him confident. We need this guy. He's a big part of that rotation.
Scooter Gennett had three hits, including a home run, and Mark Reynolds added a two-run homer in a losing effort. Carlos Gomez ended with three hits for the Brewers, who have lost three in a row at Miller Park.
Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun (back) was not in the lineup Tuesday and could return for tonight's contest. He is batting .291 with 11 homers and 49 RBI this season. Gennett took over Braun's usual No. 2 spot on Tuesday.
Kyle Lohse looks to pitch the Brewers back on track when he toes the rubber Wednesday in search of his 10th win of the season. Lohse is 9-3 with a 3.18 earned run average and lost his last outing, a 4-2 setback at Cincinnati in which he gave up four runs (3 earned) in five innings.
Lohse was 2-0 in his previous four starts. The right-hander, who is trying to win at least 10 starts for a fourth straight season, has a 3-1 record in seven home starts and will make his 15th career start against the Phillies. Lohse is 5-4 with a 3.12 ERA through the first 14 in this series and defeated Philadelphia on the road back on April 8.
Milwaukee is 13-5 when Lohse starts this season.
The Phillies pushed their record to 3-5 on a 10-game road trip and won for just the third time in the last 12 tries.
Kyle Kendrick managed to pick up the win even though he allowed all seven runs and 11 hits in 5 2/3 innings. Jonathan Papelbon was called on to close out the ninth and did so for his 21st save.
Domonic Brown homered in the third inning and later added a two-run single. He also scored twice. Chase Utley drove in three runs and Ben Revere added two hits, two RBI and two runs scored in the win. The All-Star Utley is batting .292 and has four hits with a home run and five RBI in the last two games.
Brown has six homers and went deep Tuesday for the first time since June 14.
"He had a good, level swing on the home run," Philadelphia manager Ryne Sandberg said of Brown's home run in the third inning. "It was a line drive. Had a good look about it."
Ryan Howard hasn't looked good at the plate of late and is batting .094 with one RBI and three hits in the last 10 games (32 at-bats).
Philadelphia was held to five runs or less in each of the previous 13 games and 18 in the previous 19 before Tuesday's outburst. The club scored a total of nine runs in the previous four games.
Phillies starting pitcher Roberto Hernandez has received five runs of support in his last three outings since a 10-5 victory over Atlanta on June 18. He gets the call Wednesday and hopes to end a three-game slide, which continued with last Friday's 8-2 loss at Pittsburgh. Hernandez was touched for five runs and 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings.
Hernandez, who fell to 3-8 with a 4.48 ERA, is only 1-7 in his past eight decisions and has allowed at least two runs in each of the last nine appearances. The right-hander has faced Milwaukee twice (1 start) in his career and has no record with a 4.50 ERA. Hernandez posted a no-decision against the Brewers at home on April 9, when he permitted four runs (3 earned) in five innings of a 9-4 loss.
The Phillies are 6-13 in games when Hernandez takes the hill.
Milwaukee won three games in Philadelphia back in early April and went 5-2 against the Phillies last season. The Phils have won two in a row against the Brewers after losing the previous six meetings and are aiming to take a four- game set for the fourth time in the last 20 attempts.