SAN FRANCISCO — Jimmy Nelson will seek to regain the form that had him on pace for one of the greatest seasons in Milwaukee Brewers history when he faces the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday night.
Nelson will duel Giants right-hander Jeff Samardzija, who has successfully rebounded from a poor first half to put together a nice run of his own.
The Brewers hope Nelson (9-6, 3.74 ERA) can get the club headed back in a positive direction after Milwaukee was shut out by four Giants pitchers 2-0 in the opener of the three-game series Monday.
The playoff contender wasted a quality start by ace Zach Davies in the process.
“It certainly was a quiet night,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “It’s one night we didn’t swing the bats.”
Milwaukee slipped to 2 1/2 games behind the first-place Chicago Cubs in the National League Central and 3 1/2 games back of the Arizona Diamondbacks for the second NL wild card.
Nelson was 9-5 with a 3.24 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 158 strikeouts in his first 22 starts of the season, but he crashed back to earth in an 11-10 loss to the Reds on Aug. 11. Cincinnati bombed him for 10 runs (nine earned) and 11 hits in 3 2/3 innings.
The only Brewer ever to duplicate or better Nelson’s 22-game numbers over a full season was Ben Sheets in 2004.
Nelson had an improved outing his last time out, allowing five runs (three earned) and eight hits in 6 1/3 innings in a no-decision against the Pittsburgh Pirates last Wednesday.
Still, he will take the mound having not won any of his past three starts.
One of Nelson’s nine wins came at home in June against the Giants, when he gave up three runs and seven hits in six innings in a 6-3 win.
The teams split the four-game series in Milwaukee.
The win Monday was the Giants’ 10th in their past 11 meetings with the Brewers in San Francisco, a run Samardzija (8-12, 4.79 ERA) hopes to continue.
Like Nelson, he also had a win in the earlier series, dominating the Brewers over 7 2/3 innings, during which he allowed just two runs (one earned) and six hits. He struck out 10 without issuing a walk.
The win was just the 32-year-old’s second in his first 12 starts this season.
Samardzija was just 4-11 through July 21, but he has since gone 4-1, including 3-0 at home.
He is coming off a 5-4 home win over the Philadelphia Phillies in which he gave up four runs in six innings.
Samardzija has beaten the Brewers just once in 11 career starts against them, going 1-5 with a 4.43 ERA.
The Giants won the series opener despite giving Buster Posey the night off after he was involved in three tag plays at the plate (two as a catcher, one as a baserunner) before getting nailed in the left hip with a fastball from Phillies closer Hector Neris.
Posey is expected to return to the lineup Tuesday, as is third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who left the Monday game in the eighth inning after being hit in the left wrist by a Carlos Torres pitch.
“He’s fine,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of Sandoval afterward. “I had Orlando (Calixte) ready to go there (as a pinch runner), so we made the move. He’s fine.”