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LAD@CIN: Arroyo fans four in eight scoreless innings

Brewers manager Ron Roenicke never felt the need to make his players aware of the importance of this week's series against the Reds. That's perfect for the second-year manager, because he wants to keep everything as normal as possible down the stretch, despite the fact Milwaukee finds itself in a much different position than it did back in August.

Even with Tuesday's loss to Cincinnati, Milwaukee, which has gone 25-9 in the last 34 games, sits 4 1/2 games behind St. Louis for the National League's second Wild Card. With eight games to play, Roenicke hopes his team can make one final push, but he doesn't want to draw extra attention to the task at hand.

"If I had a meeting [Tuesday], they'd go, 'What's up with this?'" he said. "I don't want that. But they know -- my gosh, we all know what we need to do."

The Brewers don't have much room for error, as the Cardinals have won nine of their last 10 games and finish a three-game series with the last-place Astros on Wednesday. It's all hands on deck for Milwaukee, which has no days off the rest of the season and two of its best players battling through injuries.

For first baseman Corey Hart, it's a partial rupture of the plantar fascia in his left foot -- which kept him out of eight games earlier this month. Since returning to the lineup on Sept. 20, Hart has gone 3-for-16 (.188) with two walks and a home run, but Roenicke said that "as long as he keeps going in straight lines, he's going to be good."

Meanwhile, Ryan Braun is fighting through a groin strain.

"Same thing -- I think they're a little better," Roenicke said. "You just hope you don't have any more setbacks."

On the other side of the diamond, the Reds are also hoping to avoid injuries the rest of the way, but not because they need to be at their best the rest of the regular season. Cincinnati locked up the National League Central on Saturday, and now the main concern is keeping everyone healthy for the playoffs as they go for the No. 1 seed.

One member the Reds know they'll be without on Wednesday, and likely until the final series of the season, is manager Dusty Baker. Originally admitted to the hospital last Wednesday and diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat, Baker revealed Tuesday that he suffered a "mini-stroke" while leaving a Chicago hospital on Friday.

In Baker's place, bench coach Chris Speier has been the acting manager. He said his main job right now is to keep everyone fresh.

"That, to me, is first and foremost importance to this team," he said. "We want to go into the playoffs as healthy as we can be and as ready as we can be. That's that fine line of intensity of at-bats, of innings played, of pitches pitched that we've got to continue. At this point, we're going to try to win every ballgame we can. That's how I look at it as a manager."

Reds: Arroyo looks for better outing against Brewers
Since giving up five runs in a loss to the Brewers on Aug. 6, right-hander Bronson Arroyo has been lights-out.

Arroyo has five wins and just one loss in his last eight starts. He owns a 2.60 ERA in those games, striking out 31 batters and allowing just four homers. Arroyo almost helped the Reds clinch the division in his last start on Friday, surrendering just one run on six hits in eight innings against the Dodgers, but Cincinnati lost, 3-1.

Brewers: Marcum continues to improve
Shaun Marcum hasn't recorded a win in his six starts since coming off the disabled list on Aug. 25. Slowly but surely, though, the 30-year-old right-hander has been returning to form, a process that will continue on Wednesday in Cincinnati.

Marcum will take the mound fresh off his longest outing after recovering from elbow tightness. He gave up just two runs on four hits in six innings Friday against the Nationals, and although he notched a no-decision, the Brewers won, 4-2.

Catcher Jonathan Lucroy said Marcum "looked really good" in his last start, other than the one home run he allowed.

"He backwards-pitched a lot of people, executed and made good pitches whenever he had to," Lucroy said. "That was the most impressive thing to me."

Worth noting
• Roenicke had a chance on Tuesday to talk over the phone with Baker. Roenicke, who said Baker "sounded great," has known the Cincinnati manager since their days with the Dodgers more than 20 years ago.

• The Reds enter with an 8-5 record against the Brewers this season, including 6-1 at Great American Ball Park.

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