By Jim Owczarski Sports Editor Published May 23, 2013 at 1:12 PM Photography: David Bernacchi

Mark Attanasio made a brief trip through the Miller Park press box en route to his pre-scheduled guest spots with the Milwaukee Brewers’ broadcast partners Wednesday afternoon, and he looked less than thrilled – and then said as much in those visits and then again to Adam McCalvy of

Later, following a 9-2 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers that dropped the team to 18-27 on the year, Ryan Braun expressed his displeasure with the team’s performance, as well.

"We haven’t played good baseball," Braun said. "It’s been pretty terrible, you know? Miserable. It’s not fun we’re playing like this. We’re not doing very many things well. We’re barely even competitive, so it’s not fun."

The former National League Most Valuable Player was then asked if there was a way for the team to break out of a 4-16 slide which has included nine losses where the offense has scored two runs or less and the starting pitching staff has tossed less than six innings 11 times.

"We need to do a lot of things better," Braun said. "We’re not doing very many things well and when that happens and you’re playing against a decent baseball team, you’re going to lose all the time and that’s what’s been happening."

While the offense has struggled to score runs consistently, the starting rotation has been the biggest issue for the Brewers this season.

Wily Peralta was knocked from Wednesday’s game after allowing six runs (four earned) in just 1 2/3 innings, plunging the Brewers starters further down the rankings in several key statistical categories.

Here are where Brewers’ starters rank in the National League and Major League Baseball in:

  • Innings pitched (250.1) – 12th, 24th
  • Earned run average (5.28) – 15th, 27th
  • Hits allowed (296) – 1st, 3rd
  • Strikeouts (176) – 13th, 24th
  • Opponent’s batting average (.293) – 15th, 28th

"It’s been tough," said Brewers starter Kyle Lohse. "You can’t win ballgames if the starting pitching is not doing our job. We haven’t been doing a very good job of keeping our team in the game at times."

In the Brewers 16 losses since May 1, the team has trailed after the fourth inning 12 times.

Braun said playing from behind that often – and in some cases having to make up a large margin – is difficult.

"It’s tough. It’s really tough, especially when it’s happening quite often," he said. "I think just mentally and emotionally it’s challenging as a team, especially when you’re facing quality major league pitchers. It’s really difficult to ever come back from a six run or seven run deficit, especially when it happens that early in a game. It’s not easy, it’s not fun. You continue to compete and play hard but the reality is that you rarely have an opportunity to come back from a deficit like that."

Unfortunately for the Brewers, Lohse – who leads all starters with a 3.76 ERA – will miss his next start to try and suppress inflammation in his elbow. But during this 20-game stretch even the veteran right-hander has struggled to get deep into games. In his four starts in this stretch, Lohse averaged less than six innings a start and had an ERA of 5.48.

"I haven’t had the best location," Lohse admitted. "You saw it. I don’t walk five people in a game. I walked five in Pittsburgh (on May 14) and just some of the misfires that I’ve had. I’m not one to make excuses but it hasn’t been exactly me out there, the normal me. I’m going out there and throwing the ball and battling to try and get the job done and it’s not a case of I’ve had a couple bad games and I need to take a break, it’s the fact that the elbow needs to get that inflammation out of there so I can get back out there and do what I do."

Offensively, the Brewers have struggled to score run and capitalize on the rare occasion when a starter has pitched well.

The team is fourth in the National League in hitting (.261 average) and seventh in runs scored (185) but in the month of May the lineup has produced just nine games with four runs or more. The team is 4-5 in those contests.

"We talk about it, and I always talk about how I like to score in a lot of different innings," manager Ron Roenicke said. "I think when you do that your offense is really good and really consistent. I think we haven’t done a good job of that. Last year we did from the second half on, but consistently, we’re not that team that consistently puts pressure on the other team inning after inning.

"We’ll have some big monster innings. Last year we scored five in a lot of innings, at least it seems like we did, and we need to be more consistent through a ballgame rather than just relying on that one big inning."

It was noted, even by Attanasio, that the Brewers entered Wednesday’s game with the same record through 44 games – 18-26 – as they had in 2012 when the team made a late wildcard-run. Perhaps it could be a silver lining, but Braun sees no similarities between the two squads with the issues on the hill and at the plate.

"No, this is different," he said. "We’re playing terrible. We’re just barely competitive. Last year, at least, there was hope I think. Right now there’s not a lot of good things going on, so we really need to turn it around."

Jim Owczarski is an award-winning sports journalist and comes to Milwaukee by way of the Chicago Sun-Times Media Network.

A three-year Wisconsin resident who has considered Milwaukee a second home for the better part of seven years, he brings to the market experience covering nearly all major and college sports.

To this point in his career, he has been awarded six national Associated Press Sports Editors awards for investigative reporting, feature writing, breaking news and projects. He is also a four-time nominee for the prestigious Peter J. Lisagor Awards for Exemplary Journalism, presented by the Chicago Headline Club, and is a two-time winner for Best Sports Story. He has also won numerous other Illinois Press Association, Illinois Associated Press and Northern Illinois Newspaper Association awards.

Jim's career started in earnest as a North Central College (Naperville, Ill.) senior in 2002 when he received a Richter Fellowship to cover the Chicago White Sox in spring training. He was hired by the Naperville Sun in 2003 and moved on to the Aurora Beacon News in 2007 before joining

In that time, he has covered the events, news and personalities that make up the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Hockey League, NCAA football, baseball and men's and women's basketball as well as boxing, mixed martial arts and various U.S. Olympic teams.

Golf aficionados who venture into Illinois have also read Jim in GOLF Chicago Magazine as well as the Chicago District Golfer and Illinois Golfer magazines.