While Tuesday's loss to the Reds seemed to be about one Brewers starting pitcher running out of gas, Wednesday's blowout 8-1 win over Cincinnati was about another starting pitcher finding a little bit left in the tank.
In his previous six starts since returning from elbow tightness that kept him out of the rotation for two months, Brewers pitcher Shaun Marcum hadn't been himself. His ERA in that span had ballooned to 5.16, as his command continued to be sporadic. Even his body language suggested that he wasn't comfortable on the mound.
But on Wednesday, those previous starts aside, Marcum blazed through the Reds' stout lineup, allowing just four hits and one earned run while striking out seven. He did a lot of his damage by getting ahead of batters early, something he hadn't been able to for the life of him in his previous starts.
And as one of only two veterans in the Brewers rotation, in the most important do-or-die stretch of the season, Marcum's bounce-back performance was hugely significant for the state of the Brewers' momentum on the mound.
"He threw real well, I'm telling you," catcher Jonathan Lucroy said. "He executed well and mixed it up that's vintage Shaun Marcum right there. That's the kind of pitcher he is."
After ending on a decent note in his last start, Marcum seems to have turned a corner. But in order for the Brewers to remain in contention, it's the rest of the rotation that will have to follow his lead.
Wily Peralta makes the start on Thursday for Milwaukee in the team's final road game of the season, and with no room for error, the Brewers will hope Peralta can bounce back from what was his worst start in the major leagues last time around. In the Brewers' second game of their last series with the Nationals, Peralta lasted just 2.2 innings on a short hook, as he walked four batters and gave up three earned runs as Milwaukee was blown out, 10-4.
With such a young staff and so little time to allow for mistakes, the Brewers won't be able to bounce back from another off start. On Wednesday, Marcum seemed to get the message. But will the rest of the rotation? That remains to be seen.
For now, manager Ron Roenicke remains hopeful, though a perfect rotation may not even be enough to stop the Cardinals.
"At this point where we put ourselves, unfortunately we need help from somebody," Roenicke said. "But if we continue to play well, it gives us that chance that someone could come in, get hot, and beat them."
Follow Ryan Kartje on Twitter.