ST. LOUIS -- Milwaukee reliever Kameron Loe continued his remarkable season Thursday night with 1 2/3 innings of shutdown pitching against St. Louis.
It was just the latest successful outings for Loe, who has given up one run all season in 18 1/3 innings.
The emergence of Loe has helped steady the bullpen, providing a reliable setup man to closer John Axford.
Considering manager Ken Macha had no idea what to expect when Loe was brought up in June from Triple-A Nashville, the reliever has been a welcome surprise.
"I had seen him pitch in Texas, he had pitched some good games against us when I was with the A's," Macha said. "But he was a starter then, so how guys transition into being relievers, you just don't know."
The key for Loe has been commanding his sinking fastball.
Standing at 6 feet 8, Loe's sinker -- called a "turbo sinker" by Cardinals manager Tony La Russa -- has been almost impossible for hitters to drive, with Loe giving up eight hits this season and zero home runs.
"The way his ball is sinking -- I brought him in Florida and I thought they were sliders, diving down breaking balls," Macha said. "But that is his fastball."
"He has been quite a find."
Kottaras to catch Parra on Saturday
ST. LOUIS -- Milwaukee manager Ken Macha confirmed catcher George Kottaras would start Saturday against St. Louis, catching left-hander Manny Parra.
It will be just the fifth start in 18 days for Kottaras, who has seen his playing time dwindle with the emergence of catcher Jonathan Lucroy.
"Two things, [Lucroy] has struggled a little bit with the balls in the dirt with Manny and we will see how George does with that," Macha said. "And George impacted the game [Thursday] night, too."
Kottaras blasted a two-run homer in the series opener with the Cardinals. Although Kottaras is batting .209 entering Friday, he has an .812 OPS on the strength of patience at the plate and his power.
Kottaras has walked 27 times in 36 games, and 15 of his 23 hits have gone for extra bases. His on-base percentage sits at .357 with a .455 slugging percentage.
"His swing is similar to Prince [Fielder]," Macha said. "He is trying to hit the ball far. I don't know if he has got any hits to [the opposite field]."
Hawkins' return still 'long way off'
ST. LOUIS -- Despite Milwaukee reliever LaTroy Hawkins' successful bullpen stints in the past week, manager Ken Macha says the right-handed reliever is "a long way off" from rejoining the active roster.
Macha said the bullpen sessions were just the beginning for Hawkins rehab.
"He is a long way off," Macha said. "He is going to have to do Spring Training [style rehab] to build up his strength."
Along with Hawkins, the return date for injured outfielder Jody Gerut remains uncertain. Gerut has taken batting practice recently, but he is still wearing a boot on his foot during games, Macha said.
With third-base coach Brad Fischer out of town for his daughter's wedding, bench coach Willie Randolp will occupy the third-base line for the rest of the series against the Cardinals. ... Corey Hart extended his hitting streak to 16 games Thursday, with a double against Cardinals starter Blake Hawksworth. ... With three home runs Thursday night, the Brewers added to their National League-leading total of 99. The Crew trail only Toronto and Boston in the Majors. ... Fans are reminded Saturday's game will start at 5:35 p.m. CT, later than initially scheduled.
Michael Bleach is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.