Thu Jul 18 3:15am ET
There is rarely a good time to face Christian Yelich.
The Arizona Diamondbacks' timing might be worse than most.
The Milwaukee Brewers right fielder has hit home runs in three of his past four games -- including a grand slam Tuesday -- tying him with the Los Angeles Dodgers' Cody Bellinger for the major league lead at 34 long balls.
Yelich and the Brewers will make their annual trip to Phoenix to play the Diamondbacks in the opener of a four-game series on Thursday night.
"Look, he's having an incredible season, and it continues," Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said after the Brewers won 5-4 against the visiting Atlanta Braves on Wednesday afternoon, helped by a solo homer by Yelich. "Even in stretches where he complains that he's not feeling perfect, he's still putting up some incredible numbers."
Milwaukee had lost eight of 10 games before winning the final two against the Braves to capture the series.
"We finally started playing the way that we're capable of offensively, defensively, pitching," Yelich said, according to MLB.com, "and we're going to need to continue to do that."
Arizona also has won two in a row entering the matchup of National League playoff hopefuls. The Diamondbacks demolished the Texas Rangers in a two-game set in Arlington, Texas, winning 9-2 on Tuesday and 19-4 on Wednesday. In the series finale, Arizona slugged five home runs among 21 hits.
The Diamondbacks scored seven runs in the first inning and five in the second.
"You score that many runs in the first inning, you're doing something right," Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. "It was a complete effort. You just want to make sure you don't shut things down, and these guys didn't."
The Diamondbacks will try to carry that momentum back home, where they have a 20-22 record, but Arizona has won four in a row at Chase Field and six of the past seven home games. The Thursday night contest starts a seven-game homestand.
Arizona will face Brewers right-hander Zach Davies (7-2, 2.89 ERA). He has allowed two runs (one earned) in 16 1/3 innings in his past three starts, all Milwaukee wins, although he did not register a decision. He is winless in his past six starts.
Davies is 2-1 with a 4.15 ERA in three career starts against the Diamondbacks.
Yelich, who has a .345 career batting average but only one home run in 65 plate appearances at Chase Field, will lead the charge for the Brewers against 30-year-old rookie Merrill Kelly (7-9, 3.93 ERA). The right-hander is 0-3 in his past five starts and is coming off a loss at St. Louis on Saturday, when he allowed four runs (one earned) in five innings.
Kelly has yet to face the Brewers in his career.
Milwaukee enters three games over .500 with a run differential of minus-13. Arizona is two games over .500 with a run differential of plus-72.
"When the run differential is telling you that you should be seven, eight, nine, 10 games over .500, it will eventually iron out," Lovullo said. "We know if we keep this ship on course, it will get to where it needs to be. That's why I believe this team will be fine in the end."
Arizona outfielder Jarrod Dyson left the Wednesday night game in the middle of the sixth inning because of a right hamstring cramp. Lovullo said Dyson was scheduled for an off day Thursday anyway and should be considered day-to-day.
--Field Level Media
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