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Narveson recovers from slow start to win

June 23, 2010

MILWAUKEE — With the Brewers beginning a stretch of 20 games in 20 days on Tuesday, manager Ken Macha talked prior to the opener against the Twins about avoiding a game that taxed the entire bullpen. He also discussed needing to get long reliever Chris Capuano some work.

Six batters into the first inning against the Twins, it looked like he might get both.

After hitting the leadoff batter and walking two men, Brewers starter Chris Narveson allowed three consecutive singles, giving up three runs without recording an out. That prompted Macha to get Capuano warming up in the bullpen.

Narveson promptly retired 14 of the final 16 batters, and he picked a man off, escaping with an improbable 7-5 victory at Miller Park.

With the bases loaded and three runs already in, Narveson induced a popup to center field from Twins third baseman Danny Valencia. From there, the lefty settled in and turned the game around, avoiding a disastrous start.

“It’s a mentality a lot of times,” Narveson said. “It was kind of one of those things where you said, ‘Hey, you’ve got to step up and pitch the way you can. You’ve got a good game plan. You know how to attack these hitters. Go out and execute it, and go from there.'”

Narveson (6-4) got the start against the Twins because right-hander Dave Bush was pushed back to Friday due to poor career numbers against the club, including a career-worst outing at Target Field earlier this season when Bush was unable to escape the first inning.

Through six batters, Narveson appeared destined for the same fate. The rest of the way, he nearly faced the minimum number of batters. First-inning struggles have been common for Narveson, whose ERA in the frame jumped to 12.27 for the season. But he rebounded against the Twins to earn his sixth victory of the season, tying him with Yovani Gallardo for the team lead.

“He threw the ball over a little better, and he used his breaking ball and changeup a little bit better,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He did a good job of hanging in there because we could’ve put him away in the first inning, and he got out of it. And then he did a really nice job of hanging in.”

Narveson also contributed some timely hitting in the fourth inning, driving in the go-ahead run to complete a four-run rally.

The Brewers opened the inning with four hits in a row, including a three-run homer to right field by Casey McGehee that tied the ballgame, 3-3. But it was the fifth hit of the inning, off Narveson’s bat, that put the Brewers ahead for good.

“I was able just to stay inside of it and get it down the line,” Narveson said. “There was definitely luck and skill involved, but I think you’re just trying to help the team win the game any way you can.”

After trailing early against Twins starter Scott Baker (6-6), who has had a history of success against the Brewers, tagging him for four runs in the fourth was a big boost for Milwaukee. Baker won both of his starts against the Brewers in 2009.

“They’ve got a quality starting staff. That was big for us to be able to come back on a guy of his quality,” McGehee said. “He’s given us some fits. I know last year, he was tough on us, so it was definitely nice to be able to get something going against him.”

The Brewers scored three more runs in the sixth and seventh, including a Rickie Weeks solo home run, giving them breathing room. The insurance came in handy when reliever Todd Coffey gave up two runs without recording an out during his first appearance since May 29.

With the tying run at the plate in the eighth inning, though, closer John Axford came in and shut the Twins down, recording six outs for his fifth save of the season. He surrendered only one hit, to Joe Mauer with two outs in the ninth inning, but he recovered to fan Justin Morneau and end the game.

The Brewers hope that they can make up some ground during their nine-game homestand, and taking the first game was a positive first step. When asked about it after the game, Macha said the club just needed to get back to .500 first. Milwaukee’s win against the Twins improved its record to 30-40. The Brewers trail the NL Central-leading Cardinals by nine games.

“When you’re this far behind … it would be nice to get within the tail lights of .500,” Macha said. “They’re around the bend right now. It’s still a long way off, but a good homestand would help that out.”

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