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Brewers recap 5/15

May 16, 2010

Narveson solid, but bullpen allows six runs

MILWAUKEE — After losing their seventh straight at home, the Brewers are beginning to run out of answers for their struggles.

Lefty Chris Narveson threw a Major League-high 130 pitches on Saturday, but lasted just 5 2/3 innings as the Phillies beat the Brewers, 10-6, at Miller Park.

Phillies starter Joe Blanton, on the other hand, was efficient through six before giving up three runs on two hits in the seventh. Blanton (1-2) picked up his first win of the season, pitching seven innings and allowing five runs on six hits while striking out five.

Team meetings with the manager are rare for the Brewers, but after yet another loss, Ken Macha got his team together for a short pep talk, as he hoped to keep his team positive after a tough week so far at home.

“We’re going through a rough patch here and the only way to do it is to fight our way out of it,” Macha said. “These guys are going to battle all the way. That’s what we did, and we’re going to have to battle our way out of it.

With starters struggling to pitch more than six innings a game, the bullpen has already been worn out to the point of needing to call up an additional arm from Triple-A in John Axford. The offense has been inconsistent, but even when it has scored five or more runs, as it has in each game against the Phillies, the pitching staff allows twice as many.

On the homestand, the Brewers have surrendered 9.4 runs per game, with 26 runs allowed by the bullpen in just five games.

Narveson (3-1) surrendered four runs on eight hits while striking out nine and walking three. Things didn’t get out of hand though until Narveson was removed with two outs in the sixth after hitting Chase Utley with a pitch.

With 130 pitches in the game, Narveson threw the most by a Brewers pitcher since CC Sabathia threw 130 against the Astros on Aug. 18, 2008. Prior to that, the last Brewers pitcher to eclipse the 130-pitch mark was Jamey Wright on Aug. 30, 2000.

“Sometimes you have to extend yourself, try to get the out,” Narveson said. “I really wasn’t looking at the pitch count. I knew that in the first couple innings I had to throw a lot more pitches than I wanted to. [But] I knew I had to go a little bit deeper in the game — I wanted to go deeper in the game.”

It was another case of the Brewers handcuffed by their pitching woes.

Macha likely would have preferred to remove Narveson around the 100-pitch mark, but with his bullpen being so overworked and performing so poorly lately, he gave the young left-hander an extra inning.

But in the sixth, Narveson allowed a two-run home run to Shane Victorino, leaving the Brewers down 4-1 as he exited.

When Vargas followed Narveson, the Brewers hoped he could repeat his performance from the previous night, when he needed just eight pitches for one inning of relief. Instead, Vargas was tagged for five runs on five hits in just one-third of an inning pitched as Philadelphia opened up a 9-2 lead.

“I thought Narveson did an outstanding job today,” Macha said. “Then we had a little letdown there in the seventh. The seventh inning kind of blew up on us.”

With the way the Brewers battled back to cut the lead to just four runs in the ninth, they likely could have won had Vargas not allowed the Phillies to blow the game open.

But as the Brewers dropped to 4-13 at Miller Park this season, Macha doesn’t want anybody pointing fingers while the team continues to struggle at home.

“We’ve got to pull together and continue to root for each other and continue to work hard,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll get ourselves out of this jam.”

Offensively, the Brewers hit three home runs for the second consecutive night, this time off the bats of Prince Fielder, Alcides Escobar and Corey Hart. Fielder and Escobar each hit solo home runs, leading off the fifth and sixth innings, respectively.

Hart, who was 2-for-4 on the day with a season-high four RBIs, hit the first pitch he saw from Blanton in the seventh out to left-center, bringing the Brewers within five. His double in the ninth made it a four-run game and set up a dramatic finish.

Still, as close as they made it in the ninth, the Brewers struck out twice to end the game, taking their fifth straight loss overall as Jose Contreras picked up his first career save.

“It’s frustrating because we keep looking up and we keep getting reminded how bad we are at home right now,” Hart said. “You want to get out there and get the early leads and try to get something going and it’s been hard for us to get anything going lately.”

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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