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Weeks helps Crew overcome wildness

June 23, 2010

MILWAUKEE — To be effective, Manny Parra has to be wild, to some degree. That was certainly the case for the Brewers lefty on Wednesday at Miller Park.

Despite throwing four wild pitches, Parra (2-5) effectively limited the Twins’ offense, giving up two runs during 5 2/3 innings as the Brewers took the 5-3 victory over the Twins.

Parra tied a club record with four wild pitches in a game, set by Ed Sprague on May 14, 1975, against the Rangers. According to both Parra and catcher Jonathan Lucroy, however, with a splitter like Parra’s, wild pitches are going to happen.

“With my split-finger, I’m bound to throw wild pitches,” Parra said. “I think last year, I shied away from it a little bit … but I’ve got to keep throwing that pitch, that’s the way I’m successful. I get guys swinging at some of those pitches.”

But as Lucroy was quick to point out, Parra only allowed two runners to score following a wild pitch — Twins first baseman Justin Morneau and third baseman Michael Cuddyer in the fourth.

“He did a good job of getting back in control and throwing some strikes,” Lucroy said. “The one thing you can take away from that is the way he bounced back and minimized the damage.”

Perhaps most importantly for Parra, though, the Brewers’ offense made the most of its opportunities, giving the lefty just enough run support to earn his first win since May 23, also against Minnesota, and his first win as a starter since Sept. 25, 2009, against the Phillies.

While the Brewers entered the game with a 5-19 record when not hitting a home run, they played small ball on Wednesday night to get the victory.

After both were stranded following a pair of singles to lead off the first, Rickie Weeks and Corey Hart combined to drive in four of the Brewers’ five runs. Weeks, who went 3-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs scored, played a role in all five Brewers runs on the night.

“We hustled to get our runs, we scrapped to get our runs,” Brewers manager Ken Macha said. “Sometimes, you have to do that. It’s not always on the big boys to do everything.”

Following a Weeks walk in the third, Hart ripped a double to the left-field corner, which scored Weeks from first.

One inning later, Weeks drove in a pair when he came up with a big two-run, two-out single to put the Brewers up, 3-2.

With Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun and Casey McGehee combining for a 0-for-10 night, with a lone RBI from Braun in the seventh on a fielder’s choice, the top of the Brewers’ order showed its run-producing potential.

“I don’t know if we would be 1-2 in most lineups, but we are in this lineup,” Hart said. “We try to get on base for the guys behind us. It’s nice to drive in runs, as well, but I think our goal is to get on as much as we can for Prince and Brauny.

“I’m not a power hitter. … I see myself as a guy that I role play to try to get going for those guys.”

Behind Parra, the Brewers’ bullpen was effective once again, giving up one run over 3 1/3 innings on four hits, while striking out five and walking just one.

Lefty Zach Braddock — who returned to the team after missing Tuesday’s series opener due to a death in the family — got a huge out for the Brewers in the sixth, entering in place of Parra to strike out pinch-hitter Jim Thome.

According to Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, the decision to remove starter Francisco Liriano, who had thrown only 77 pitches over five innings, was done to try to take advantage of a big opportunity in a National League ballgame.

“Got to try to win a ballgame. We’re losing. He’s probably got one more inning left in him, anyway,” Gardenhire said. “You’ve got a couple of guys on. Try to get him in a situation where, if he hits a double, score a couple runs.

“This National League stuff is different than it is over in our league. Have to take a chance when you can.”

After Braddock, the Brewers used Kameron Loe for one out in the seventh, Carlos Villanueva in the eighth, and John Axford closed it out in the ninth, earning the save.

“We got some big outs from the bullpen tonight,” Macha said. “Braddock coming in in the sixth inning, striking out Thome. Loe getting the strikeout on Cuddyer in the seventh. Good inning by Villa … and Ax made good pitches. He put the ball right where he wanted to.”

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