MILWAUKEE -- It was clear after three perfect innings Thursday that this was a different Kyle Lohse than the one who lost his first three starts of the season and had a 10.34 ERA. Or rather, it was clear to his teammates that the old Lohse was back.
"The 'different' Lohse was the one we saw in the starts before," said center fielder Logan Schafer, who scored the go-ahead run in Milwaukee's 4-2 win over the Reds. "He even said, 'I'm feeling it.' When he knows where he's throwing his pitches and when the guys are going to swing and miss, it's going to be a fun day."
It was a fun day for Lohse, who surrendered two runs on only three hits in seven innings for the Brewers' second consecutive quality start. It helped snap their eight-game losing streak.
Lohse entered Thursday having allowed at least four earned runs and at least six hits in each of his first three starts of the season, including an Opening Day loss to the Rockies in which he surrendered 10 hits and matched a career high with eight earned runs allowed. Even for a veteran pitcher coming off the four best seasons of a 15-year Major League career, Lohse had to consciously keep cracks from forming in his confidence.
"Put it this way: I needed that one today," he said. "The last two starts against Pittsburgh were really close, just a couple of three-run homers that really hurt. Just being able to get through this one, make the pitches I had to … I had to go back to trusting my stuff. Sometimes when things are going bad, you try to do too much. I had to go back and keep doing what I've been doing, and trust that it's good enough."
The result was a fast-paced game completed in two hours and 28 minutes, a hallmark of Lohse when he is right.
"Really quick getting the ball back, ready to throw, making pitches," manager Ron Roenicke said. "That's usually when he's at his best, that's what he's doing. … You see at times it's slower if there's more thinking going on. Any time that happens, you know that focus on just that one thing, other outside influences start coming in, and it's the same thing with a hitter. Any time you have all that other thinking going on, you don't perform well."
The outing lowered Lohse's ERA to 7.94. A free agent at season's end, he has made at least 30 starts with an ERA of 3.54 or better in each of the past four years.
"We know we're going to have pitch well if we're going to compete in our division," Roenicke said. "So this is a good start to that and hopefully we see a lot more."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.