Matt Garza is starting to show the form the Brewers envisioned when they signed him to a four-year, $50 million deal.
Garza will take the mound at just the right time for Milwaukee, which will try to avoid being swept in four games by the Phillies in Thursday afternoon's series finale at Miller Park.
The 30-year-old right-hander is coming off his best outing of the season, tossing a two-hitter in a 1-0 victory at Cincinnati on Saturday. Garza, who was perfect through four innings, became only the seventh opponent to pitch a shutout in 12 years at high-scoring Great American Ball Park.
"I just kept attacking," Garza said. "I had a plan and just stuck with it. Me and 'Luc' [catcher Jonathan Lucroy], like we talk before every game, and the plan just worked. We went after these guys and we challenged them."
In his last seven starts, Garza is 4-1 with a 2.36 ERA.
"That's what he's capable of doing," Lucroy said. "If he can continue doing that right there, we're going to be in pretty good shape, I think. That's pretty impressive."
"I'm hoping, this being the best of them, that this will get him back in that groove where he reels off a couple of months of great ballgames," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said.
Garza's Thursday-afternoon counterpart, David Buchanan, hasn't won since June 24. In his last outing, the 25-year-old rookie allowed six hits and three runs with a walk and three strikeouts in six innings in a losing effort Saturday against the Pirates. He has pitched six or more innings in five of his nine career big league starts.
Phillies: Amaro not likely to trade Hamels
General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has said some Phillies players are more untouchable than others as the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches, and Cole Hamels certainly fits that mold.
Not that it would be easy to trade the 30-year-old Hamels. He is owed at least $96 million in salary following this season. The number jumps to $104 million if a 2019 option automatically vests. Hamels also has a limited no-trade clause, although FOXSports.com reported that Hamels' list allows trades to the following teams without his approval: Dodgers, Padres, Angels, Cardinals, Nationals, Braves, Yankees, Red Sox and Rangers.
Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said it would be tough to lose Hamels.
"Pitching is the name of the game," Sandberg said. "Pitching and defense. You can't have enough pitching, depth in pitching. Not only at the Major League level, but the Minor League level, having backups. You can't have enough. That's something that we need to beef up on here, pitching throughout the organization."
Brewers: Roenicke hopeful Braun returns in finale
Outfielder Ryan Braun was held out of Wednesday's starting lineup rather than risk another recurrence of the back problems that have plagued him since last weekend.
Braun actually started Monday night, but was removed for a pinch-runner after limping noticeably following an eighth-inning double. He did not play at all in Tuesday's 9-7 loss to the Phillies.
"It's a lot better, so we were debating whether to put him in there today," Roenicke said before Wednesday night's game. "What I didn't want to happen was like we did two days ago when we put him and then I had to pull him out of the game. That's about where he was. I can use him off the bench today. Hopefully by doing this today, he'll be fine."
Roenicke said he hoped for Braun to return in the series finale.
• Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz, who has been on the seven-day concussion DL since June 27, had another concussion test Wednesday. The Phillies said it went, "very well," and Ruiz has been cleared to begin baseball activities.
• The Brewers' only win in their last nine games was Garza's 1-0 win over the Reds on July 5.
Erik Bacharach is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.