CLEVELAND -- It had been nearly a decade since a Brewers pitcher had walked as many as eight batters in an outing before Jimmy Nelson took the mound on a rainy Wednesday night at Progressive Field and continued his team's pitching funk.
Nelson lost for the first time since the All-Star break, allowing five runs on four hits and a career-worst eight walks in 3 1/3 innings of a 6-2 loss to the Indians. The Brewers have not had a quality start -- six-plus innings, three or fewer earned runs -- in any of their last eight games. During that span, from Aug. 17 through Wednesday, Milwaukee's starters are 2-6 with a 9.92 ERA. Only once has the starter thrown a pitch in the sixth inning. In four of those eight games, the starter didn't make it past the fourth inning.
"We're struggling," manager Craig Counsell said. "We're putting ourselves behind the 8-ball and we're making it tough."
Milwaukee's two-game Interleague series in Cleveland was particularly problematic. Wily Peralta and Nelson, the hard-throwing right-handers expected to anchor this pitching rotation for years to come, combined to pitch only six innings in a pair of Brewers losses.
Wednesday's weather didn't help. A moderate rain fell throughout Nelson's time on the mound, though he pointed out that Indians starter Cody Anderson seemed to cope just fine.
"[The ball] wasn't coming out of my hand right," Nelson said. "I wasn't getting 'on top' of any of my pitches, and I wasn't making the adjustment like I know I can do. That's what frustrates me and disappoints me the most, is I didn't make the adjustments. It's not like I went out there and they were crushing balls left and right -- I did it to myself. As far as things that I can control, that's the worst game I've had in a long time."
Nelson went 7-1 with a 2.39 in his 11 starts prior to Wednesday, when he became the first Brewers pitcher since Doug Davis on Sept. 28, 2006 to walk eight batters in a game. It marked only the 18th time in club history that a pitcher walked that many. The franchise record is nine walks, shared by Davis, Everett Stull and Jaime Cocanower.
"I don't think it was anything about the conditions, I just think he was just off," Counsell said. "He had a lot of trouble throwing strikes. [The Indians] are a very disciplined team. They're probably the most disciplined lineup you're going to face. They rarely chase. They did a good job. He was struggling getting really any of his pitches over consistently, and that's a lineup that they're not going to give you a free pitch on balls out of the zone."
These are the dog days for Brewers pitchers.
"For everybody," Nelson corrected. "I think the dog days started in July."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.