MILWAUKEE -- Zach Davies offered no help Friday for the Brewers' sagging starting rotation.
The Brewers entered the night with four quality starts, fewest in the National League, and remained there after Davies was touched for nine hits and four earned runs in six innings of a 5-2 loss to the Phillies at Miller Park. Only the Orioles have fewer quality starts, with three in the potent American League East.
While Phillies starter Aaron Nola pitched through the seventh inning for the third time, becoming the sixth Philadelphia pitcher to get that deep into a game this season, the Brewers remained stuck on one such start. It was Jimmy Nelson's 7 1/3-inning outing against the Giants in the second game of the season.
Nelson owns three of the Brewers' four quality starts. Chase Anderson has the other. Brewers starters have a 5.88 ERA, worst in the Majors.
"We've got some starters that are learning on the fly here, so we're working on it," catcher Jonathan Lucroy said. "We're trying to get better every day. Sometimes we're going to make some mistakes and are going to get beat. We have to minimize those mistakes and learn every day and not worry about any of the other stuff."
Davies did not get much help from his defense in a loss at Pittsburgh last weekend, but that was not his undoing Friday. After navigating around Phillies threats in each of the first three innings, he surrendered a double and a shift-beating Darin Ruf single in the fourth for a 1-1 tie, then was hit hard in a three-run fifth. Odubel Herrera hit a sharp single up the middle, Freddy Galvis hit a go-ahead triple to right field and Maikel Franco hit a two-run home run in a three-batter flurry that made it a 4-1 deficit.
"A little frustrated," Davies said. "I made some improvements from the last time, but struggled through the fifth and three pitches decided the ballgame.
"Just bad pitches. Wrong pitches, bad pitches."
He particularly lamented a "wrong" pitch to Franco. Davies shook off Lucroy's suggestion before throwing a curveball that opened up the game.
"It was a bad pitch to Franco," manager Craig Counsell said. "Other than that, I thought he pitched well. He gave up some hits, but the breaking ball to Franco is what cost him."
Davies is in the rotation because veteran right-hander Matt Garza is on the disabled list, and Friday marked his eighth Major League start. The Brewers' rotation also features Anderson (51 starts), Nelson (47 starts) and Taylor Jungmann (25 starts). With Garza sidelined by a lat strain, only Wily Peralta had completed more than one full Major League season prior to this year.
"It's tough to take a loss," Davies said, "but I'll take the positives and the negatives out of this game and come out next time."
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. 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.