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Brewers’ early lead vanishes vs. Astros

June 29, 2010

MILWAUKEE — For three innings, it was like the Brewers were back in May.

Just as they seemed to be rolling right along, leading by four runs early and by three through five innings, the Brewers had a stretch on Monday in which they looked more like the club that lost nine in a row in the middle of May than the one that had won six of seven.

Brewers pitchers Manny Parra, Carlos Villanueva, Todd Coffey and David Riske combined to give up seven runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings to allow Houston to take the series opener, 9-5, at Miller Park.

“The bullpen, that has been doing very well, tonight didn’t get the job done,” Brewers manager Ken Macha said.

Coffey (2-2), who gave up two unearned runs, took the loss, though a defensive miscue by Casey McGehee at third base did not make things easy on him.

After Villanueva gave up an RBI single and a walk with two outs in the sixth, Coffey entered and promptly surrendered a two-run single to Hunter Pence, tying the game at 5.

“To their credit, they got some big two-out hits, and two-strike hits,” Macha said. “[Michael] Bourn, that was a big hit off of Villa, went the other way with it to left field. Then we brought in Coffey to get Pence and first-pitch swinging he got a hanging slider. So there were two big hits there in that inning.”

In the seventh, though, a fielding error by McGehee allowed the leadoff batter, Chris Johnson, to reach and contributed to a pair of unearned runs.

Immediately following the error, Coffey gave up a double on a 1-0 fastball to Pedro Feliz, which scored Johnson from first and gave the Astros their first lead.

According to Coffey, the error did not impact on his performance.

“It didn’t at all,” Coffey said. “I still can’t give up a double two pitches later. I’ve got to get it done. I didn’t get it done. I made [Zach] Braddock come in and clean up my mess.”

For Coffey, it was his third outing since returning from the 15-day disabled list. In those three outings, Coffey has given up four runs — two earned — in one inning while surrendering five hits and one walk with zero strikeouts.

After Braddock finished up the seventh, allowing an inherited runner to score on a single, David Riske, who had not allowed a run in six appearances entering the game, gave up two more. Riske opened the inning by allowing a walk, single and double, all but ending any hopes of a comeback.

It was an impressive offensive night for the Astros, who tallied 14 hits, including three doubles and a homer. With the solo blast in the third, Bourn snapped a streak of 542 at-bats without a homer, dating to July 10, 2009.

Bourn, Pence and Feliz each tallied three hits, while Bourn added a fourth, tying a career high.

“We had a good offensive night,” Pence said. “We found some holes and put the barrel on the ball quite a bit. It feels good. I think the way Bourn swung it today and Keppinger was on the base all the time and Carlos [Lee] had some big hits, all the way up and down we swung it well.”

After entering the game with the second-best ERA (2.33) in the Majors as a staff over the past seven days, Brewers pitchers seemed to do everything they hadn’t been doing over their recent stretch of strong performances.

In particular, the Brewers gave up six walks, after the club’s walk totals had been down during its recent run.

Additionally, after leading 4-0 in the second, the club tied a season high for the biggest blown lead of the season.

“We had a bunch of walks tonight and that hasn’t been happening,” Macha said. “[We gave up] a bunch of free bases, six free bases.”

Parra came up short of a quality start once again, by one inning and one run. Over the past 16 games, the Brewers have gotten 10 quality starts with a 3.23 ERA from their starters.

Once he got over the 100-pitch mark, however, Parra’s command — which was already a bit off as he gave up four walks — got away from him.

“It’s disappointing that we lost,” Parra said. “I just wasn’t sharp. [It was] kind of a battle. I didn’t really have any consistency with any pitches. … Nothing was really there. I was just battling and trying to get guys out with whatever I could.

“It didn’t work out for us.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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