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Missed chances cost Brewers

July 8, 2010

MILWAUKEE — As important as it is to get runners on base, it does you no good when you can’t deliver clutch hits to bring them around to score. Just ask the Brewers.

As the Giants completed the four-game sweep with a 9-3 victory on Thursday, the Brewers went 2-for-17 with runners in scoring position while leaving 17 on base. In the series, the Brewers went 3-for-42 with RISP and left 46 on base.

“Our hitting with guys in scoring position in this particular series did us in,” Brewers manager Ken Macha said. “Three for 42, that’s not going to win you many ballgames, particularly when you get behind early.”

Whereas the Brewers struggled to bring runners home, the Giants piled on five runs in the third and fourth innings on just three hits and two Milwaukee errors. In the eighth and ninth innings, the Giants tacked on a few more, two of which came on leadoff homers.

For the second straight game, the Brewers got a poor performance from their starting pitcher, as lefty Manny Parra surrendered six runs (four earned) on 10 hits and two walks while recording five strikeouts.

Parra (3-6) put the Brewers in an early hole in the first inning with a balk, which forced a replay of what would have been a lineout to center field by Aubrey Huff. After stepping back in the batter’s box, Huff lined a single to right field, driving home Andres Torres from third.

When asked if the umpire made the correct call on the balk, Parra took the high road.

“It’s a judgment call,” said Parra. “It’s not for any of us to really [decide]. It’s his call.”

Parra escaped with a scoreless second inning despite back-to-back one-out singles, but was roughed up again in the third, when Huff returned to the plate. With one on and none out, Huff belted an 0-2 splitter deep to right for his second home run of the series and 17th of the season.

“Really, the worst pitches I paid for were against Huff,” Parra said. “He had four RBIs against me and hurt me a little bit. But other than that, they were on fire. They were hitting even executed pitches and finding a way to get on base.”

For the Brewers, missed opportunities were the most obvious problem.

In the second, fifth and sixth innings, the Brewers stranded the bases loaded. After three straight two-out walks in the fifth, rookie shortstop Alcides Escobar struck out swinging.

An inning later, the Brewers got a pair of strikeouts by George Kottaras and Joe Inglett sandwiched around an RBI walk drawn by Carlos Gomez. After Inglett struck out looking, pinch-hitter Ryan Braun grounded out to second to end the threat.

With 17 runners left on base during the game Thursday, the Brewers set a new season high. It was the fourth time in club history in which the Brewers had 17 or more left on base in a nine-inning game.

The club record is 21 left on base, which has occurred three times, all in extra-inning games.

For a nine-inning affair, the Brewers record is 19 in a 7-6 win over Minnesota on May 16, 1986, one shy of the Major League record of 20, set by the New York Yankees in 1956.

With just three runs scored despite 20 baserunners on Thursday, the Brewers were swept for the first time by the Giants and dropped their fifth straight overall. Outscoring the Brewers, 36-7, in the series, the Giants bounced back after losing 10 of their previous 12.

“We played our best ball in this series,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “Coming off a tough series, too, it was great to see how we came out and played.”

With the loss, the Brewers’ home record fell to 17-26. At a .395 home winning percentage, Milwaukee is just barely ahead of Baltimore (.390) for the worst home record in the Majors.

After opening a stretch of 16 out of 20 games at home with four straight wins, the Brewers have gone just 2-7 at Miller Park since. With such poor all-around play — hitting, pitching and defense — over the past five games, a number of questions surround the Crew.

Along with the question of Macha’s job security, the most prominent of those questions is whether the Brewers will soon become sellers heading toward the July 31 Trade Deadline.

While it’s certainly hard to ignore the potential departure of teammates, McGehee hopes it’s not on the minds of any of them.

“If it is, you need to get out of here,” McGehee said. “If you ain’t worried about what you’re doing here, then you shouldn’t be.

“I’m not by any means saying anybody is doing it, but I’m saying if that’s your mindset and you decide to turn on and off depending on who may or may not be here tomorrow, you shouldn’t have been here in the first place.”

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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