MILWAUKEE -- Last season was a consistent march forward for Brewers right-hander Wily Peralta, who established himself as a front-line starter with a 3.53 ERA and 17 victories in 32 starts. So it's natural to wonder this season, as Peralta continues to seesaw since returning from a two-month stint on the disabled list for a rib-cage strain, whether he's pitching at 100 percent.
In the wake of a 5-4 loss to the Cardinals in which Peralta surrendered three home runs before recording his 11th out, he insisted health is not the problem.
"It's been really inconsistent," said Peralta, who was charged with five earned runs in four innings. "One good start, one bad one. Two good ones, two bad ones. It's not the way you want to finish the season. It's been a tough season, but there's nothing you can do about it. I just have to continue working hard.
"I feel 100 percent. I just feel healthy. Things aren't going my way right now."
Catcher Martin Maldonado said Peralta's troubles on Wednesday were mostly a matter of location, particularly to rookie Cardinals outfielder Tommy Pham, who homered in both of his at-bats against Peralta. Matt Carpenter also homered as St. Louis built a 5-0 lead by the top of the fourth inning.
Last season, opponents batted .261 against Peralta. This year, they're batting .298, and his strikeouts are down from seven per nine innings last season to five per nine innings this season. He is 5-9 with a 4.41 ERA in 19 starts, including 4-4 with a 4.86 ERA in 10 starts off the DL.
"When you get ahead as a pitcher, you can do whatever you want," Maldonado said. "But you fall behind, a good fastball-hitting team will hit good fastballs. There would be no reason he would be out there if he was not 100 percent."
Peralta said he was eager for a rematch with the Cardinals in 10 days in St. Louis. He will be seeking his first victory this season against the Brewers' chief rival; Peralta is 0-4 with a 5.32 ERA against the Cards in 2015.
It's one of three starts left on the schedule for Peralta, who will be eligible for salary arbitration for the first time this winter. That's only one reason Peralta is eyeing a strong finish.
"It's really important," he said. "You always want to go into the offseason finishing strong."
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.