MILWAUKEE -- — Eric Lauer is pitching better as the season gets later.
“I thought he was excellent,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “Just in complete command of the game, complete control of the hitters, complete control of counts.”
Lauer (5-5) has given up one run and just seven hits over 14 innings in two starts this month. He improved his season ERA to 3.18 and continued to inspire reassessments of the 2019 trade that brought him to Milwaukee.
Lauer and infielder Luis Urías struggled last year after being acquired from San Diego for pitcher Zach Davies and outfielder Trent Grisham, who won a Gold Glove in his first season with the Padres. This year, Urías has 19 homers and Lauer has stabilized the back of the Brewers' rotation.
“It’s definitely nice to go out and perform and do my job and to see other guys succeed," Lauer said. “It’s not so much about the trade anymore. It's like, we’re here, we want to be a part of this team, we know we're contributors and we can do some special things with this team."
Avisaíl García hit a two-run homer in his return to the lineup and Eduardo Escobar knocked in three runs as the Brewers maintained their franchise-record 11-game lead in the NL Central over the Cincinnati Reds. Kolten Wong and Christian Yelich added two RBI each.
But they couldn’t do much of anything against Lauer.
He was pitching so well that the Brewers let him hit for himself with the bases loaded and two outs in a 3-0 game in the sixth inning. Lauer rewarded the team’s faith in him by drawing a walk to spark a three-run rally. He also singled and scored in the third.
“He's done a great job,” Yelich said. “Every time he takes the ball, we feel we have a chance to win. He's stepped up in some big bounce-back games for us like he did today.”
Hunter Strickland and Miguel Sánchez worked the final two innings to complete the five-hit shutout.
Phillies starter Aaron Nola (7-8) gave up three runs and six hits in five innings while striking out six and walking none. Those three runs came in a third-inning rally that featured five hits, which all came on two-strike pitches.
“This whole season, it's for the most part one inning that's erupted on me,” Nola said. “I thought I made some OK pitches that inning. They just found holes.”
That third-inning rally featured a two-out Escobar ground-rule double that brought home two runs to break a scoreless tie. On the ninth pitch of his at-bat, Escobar hit a fly ball that bounced off the dirt in left field and landed in the stands in foul territory.
“That was the at-bat I circled as the at-bat of the game,” Counsell said.
Milwaukee broke the game open by scoring seven runs against Philadelphia's bullpen. The Brewers scored three in the sixth off Ramón Rosso. García hit his two-run homer in the seventh off Cam Bedrosian. Milwaukee added two more runs in the eighth against Enyel De Los Santos
That was more than enough for Lauer.
He was removed after throwing 87 pitches and didn’t get a chance to produce a complete-game shutout. Adrian Houser threw a three-hitter Saturday in a 4-0 triumph over the St. Louis Cardinals that made him the first Brewer to pitch a complete-game shutout since Kyle Lohse on Sept. 24, 2014.
WONG RETURNS AS NEW DAD
Wong returned to the team from the paternity list and batted leadoff. His wife, Alissa, gave birth on Saturday to a boy named Kash Kaha.
The Brewers optioned utilityman Tim Lopes to Triple-A Nashville.
García returned to the starting lineup for the first time since Thursday after dealing with leg and back problems. He had entered Sunday's game in a pinch-hitting appearance. ... Counsell said he expects C Manny Piña (oblique) to return from the injured list this weekend.
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