Amid distractions, Brewers thrive on homestand

With Lucroy reportedly on move and Braun hurt, Milwaukee plays well

Amid distractions, Brewers thrive on homestand

MILWAUKEE -- With Ryan Braun banged up, Jonathan Lucroy on the brink of being traded and half of the bullpen also on the block, the Brewers somehow are putting the finishing touches on one of their most productive homestands of the season.

Hernan Perez and Kirk Nieuwenhuis each homered while Braun and Lucroy sat out Saturday's 5-3 win over the Pirates at Miller Park. It was the Brewers' sixth victory in the first nine games of a long homestand that concludes Sunday afternoon, with Matt Garza matched up against Pittsburgh left-hander Francisco Liriano.

Will Lucroy still be a Brewer by first pitch? How about when players and staff board a Sunday evening flight for San Diego? They are as eager to find out as the fans.

Report: Crew agrees to Lucroy deal with Indians

"Everybody knows what's going on right now," said Perez. "[Lucroy] is a great player, a great catcher. Somebody's going to need him."

"I think everybody is just trying to do their job," said Martin Maldonado, who started behind the plate Saturday, and probably will do so again Sunday because the Brewers don't want to risk an injury to Lucroy scuttling a blockbuster trade. "It's a little weird, but it is what it is."

Anderson's strong start

While the Brewers' stars were sidelined, others stepped up. Perez made his second start in three days in Braun's three-hole, and homered in each of those games. His two-run shot in the first inning Saturday gave Perez a hit in four of his last five games while providing a lead for starter Chase Anderson, who struck out seven batters over five innings to win his second start on the homestand. Nieuwenhuis started in right field and threw one runner out at first base, another at the plate, and homered for the fourth time on the homestand.

In their six victories over the Cubs, D-backs and Pirates since coming home, the Brewers are averaging six runs per game.

"With all the stuff swirling around, we've talked about distractions and where to put them," manager Craig Counsell said. "Guys have gotten opportunities and made the most of them."

Nieuwenhuis' solo home run

Asked about those swirling rumors, Nieuwenhuis said, "That's so far out of our control, and I think we've done a good job of realizing that. Everybody in here, whether they're involved in talks or not, has done a good job of blocking it out."

The non-waiver Trade Deadline is 3 p.m. CT on Monday. By then, Maldonado could be elevated to the Brewers' No. 1 catcher.

"I don't know about that," Maldonado said. "They haven't told me anything. I just try to do my job every time I see my name in the lineup. It's not like they've told me, 'You're going to be the catcher.' Whenever 'Couns' puts me out there, I try to do my job."

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for 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.