MILWAUKEE — After an early lead, things got ugly in a hurry for the Twins on Saturday night, as they fell, 11-1, to the Brewers.
Left-hander Francisco Liriano seemed to be in control in the third, until former Twins center fielder Carlos Gomez turned on a 1-2 slider and put it into the seats in left field for a go-ahead two-run home run.
Despite entering the game batting just .210 on the season, Gomez improved his batting average to .370 (10-for-27) against his former team. He was not shy about enjoying the home run either, flipping the bat to the dirt and trotting slowly to first before speeding up the rest of the way.
“I know I hit it good,” Gomez said. “In the last four, five starts, I didn’t hit a base hit. My only base hit in the month was the pinch-hit double [on June 16 against the Cubs] so I felt really good and excited about this. They know it’s nothing personal, especially when I have my best friend on the mound.”
Gomez had a similar incident last season when the Twins and Brewers met at Target Field, as he admired a three-run blast late in a 15-3 loss, flipping his bat and hitting Joe Mauer behind the plate with it.
Even so, the Twins weren’t bothered by it.
“I had Go-Go, he’s a great kid,” Gardenhire said. “He plays at one speed and it doesn’t get under my skin at all. He’s a really cool kid and he’s just playing really hard. And he hustles all the time and he has a passion for the game. So, no, it doesn’t bother me a bit.”
Liriano admitted after the game that the pitch location may not have been the best against a hitter like Gomez.
“I don’t think it was the right pitch to throw to Gomez,” Liriano said. “He’s pulling everything, so, I think throwing that slider down and in is doing a favor to him.”
The home run by Gomez, his fifth of the season, sparked a big inning for the Brewers, who plated three more runs in the inning on three singles, two errors and a walk. Liriano would leave the game in the fourth, having allowed six runs (five earned) on eight hits in 3 2/3 innings of work.
Things only got worse for the Twins after Liriano left the game.
With two out in the fifth, Brewers shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt drove a 1-0 curveball from Anthony Swarzak to left, which was misjudged by Delmon Young, resulting in an inside-the-park home run. Young initially ran in on the ball before racing back to try and make the catch.
As Young stretched for the ball, he crashed into the left-field fence, with his right leg landing awkwardly at the bottom of the wall. Young was unable to get up, allowing Betancourt to score, and was helped onto a stretcher before being carted off the field with a right ankle sprain. X-rays taken at the ballpark on Young came back negative.
“I got my spike caught on the bottom of the scoreboard, the black ledge just sticks out,” Young said. “Instead of my foot missing it and just hitting the ground, it got caught in there, and the rest of my weight went into it.”
In the seventh and eight innings, the Brewers added four more runs for good measure, including a two-run home run by Prince Fielder off lefty reliever Phil Dumatrait and a solo shot by Corey Hart off Joe Nathan.
As the Twins struggled to keep the Brewers off the board, Brewers right-hander Yovani Gallardo kept the Twins offense off balance all night, allowing just one run on six hits over seven innings.
The Twins dropped their fourth straight game after winning eight in a row. They scored just one run for the third time in their last four, and they’ve averaged just 1 1/2 runs per game over that stretch.
“Not a good night for us,” Gardenhire said. “We had one bad inning early, we missed a couple of plays, and they banged it all over the 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.
MILWAUKEE — With every start, Chris Capuano continues to make progress in his return from a second Tommy John surgery. On Monday, the 100-pitch mark was his latest milestone.
Capuano delivered an impressive performance for his third straight quality start, but back-to-back Reds home runs in the eighth made the difference as the Brewers lost their second straight game, 5-2.
Tossing six innings, Capuano gave up two runs on four hits and three walks with seven strikeouts. Reaching the century mark for the first time this season, Capuano’s pitch count of 105 was his highest since throwing 113 pitches on Aug. 19, 2007.
“This was a huge step for him,” said Brewers manager Ken Macha. “Not only getting past 100 pitches, but the game pretty much on the line [in the sixth inning]. First and second with one out, he winds up getting two big outs there.”
Since his rough return to the rotation on Aug. 28 against the Pirates, Capuano has excelled, posting a 1-2 record with a 2.58 ERA in four September starts. Over that stretch, Capuano has allowed just seven earned runs on 17 hits in 24 1/3 innings of work.
In each of his five late-season starts, Capuano has progressed with his pitch count, going from 75 pitches to 80, 83, 90 and 105 on Monday. His best outing came Sept. 8 against the Cardinals when he tossed seven innings while giving up one run on four hits.
While he wasn’t quite as sharp against the Reds, he said he felt even better.
“Physically, this was the best I’ve felt,” Capuano said. “I really felt good out there physically, and got the pitch count up there close to 100. It felt good.”
But did Capuano feel the effects of tossing 100 pitches for the first time in three years?
“No, I feel good,” Capuano answered. “Like I said, I think this is the best I’ve felt so far.”
Unfortunately for Capuano and the Brewers, they were unable to keep the Reds from reducing their magic number even further. After their win Monday, coupled with a Cardinals loss, the number was down to six.
After leaving with the game tied at 2, Capuano handed the ball off to reliever Kameron Loe, who delivered a scoreless 1 1/3 innings before letting things get away from him. With one out in the eighth, Loe (3-5) surrendered a single and back-to-back home runs as the Reds took a 5-2 lead.
Following an Orlando Cabrera single, Joey Votto belted a 2-2 fastball into the second deck in left-center field, putting the Reds on top, 4-2. Afterward, Macha was asked if he considered anyone other than Loe against Votto.
“You’ve got a way to go yet in the game,” Macha said. “[Zach] Braddock really hasn’t been on his game, and [Manny] Parra needed a day off, he had 20-some pitches.”
With no left-handers available and apparently not wanting to use closer John Axford, Macha stuck with Loe, who he viewed as his best option at the time.
Votto had struggled through his first three at-bats, going 0-for-3 against Capuano while being called out on strikes twice. His night went from bad to great with one swing of the bat in the eighth.
“The more times you face him, the better chance he has,” said Reds manager Dusty Baker. “I always say you hate to see a good hitter cold. Sooner or later the law of averages is on his side and he’s going to get somebody. That was as long of a home run to the opposite field I’ve seen.”
Added Votto: “I try not to take previous at-bats into following at-bats. I didn’t have a very good game going into that point. That’s why we play all nine innings.”
Even after the two-run homer, Loe stayed in, and Scott Rolen drove his very next pitch over the fence in right. It was the Reds’ 11th set of back-to-back home runs this season.
Loe made himself unavailable for comment after the Brewers’ 5-2 loss.
With the loss, the Brewers dropped to 36-39 at Miller Park this season. As only six home games remain on the schedule, they’ll need to win four of six to finish at .500 on the year and five of six to secure a winning home record in 2010.
Milwaukee finished 40-41 at home last year after posting four consecutive winning home records. Lately, the bright spot has been the Brewers’ ability to compete with some of the league’s best — or hottest — teams in the Reds, Phillies, Cardinals, Giants and Astros.
Offensively, Ryan Braun and Rickie Weeks provided the only bright spots for the Brewers. Weeks went 2-for-3 with a double and two runs scored, while Braun drove in a pair of runs and doubled. Braun’s two RBIs moved him one behind third baseman Casey McGehee, who leads the Brewers with 94 runs batted in.
As it has been most of the season, the problem for the offense was delivering hits with runners in scoring position. The most obvious example came in the second inning, when Carlos Gomez led off with an infield single and reached third on a throwing error with none out. With three straight strikeouts, the Brewers left Gomez stranded at third.
“Gomez is on third, nobody out, we didn’t put the ball in play,” Macha said. “Little things like that hurt you when you’ve got tight games.”
Macha against continued use of maple bats
MILWAUKEE — As a player, Brewers manager Ken Macha used ash bats. While he sees the competitive benefits of maple bats, he does not see that as reason enough to overlook their dangerous nature.
“Get rid of the maple bats. Absolutely, 100 percent,” Macha said. “What’s going to really happen is one’s going to go in the stands. … There’s people in the stands, they’re not paying attention to anything. They’re talking to the guy three seats down, not even going to move to get out of the way.”
Macha was asked about the maple bats in light of a chest injury suffered Sunday by Cubs rookie Tyler Colvin, who was struck by a portion of Wellington Castillo’s shattered bat. Colvin was in stable condition shortly after the game, but is expected to miss the rest of the 2010 season.
While he believes maple bats should be eliminated from use, that doesn’t mean Macha is unaware of the reason behind the players’ preference.
“That wood is absolutely harder,” Macha said of the maple bats. “You’d hit with these ash bats and if you hit the ball on a seam, you could see a dent with the seam on the bat. But with the maple, it’s so hard guys will use the thing and you will see no dents in the bat at all.
“When you’ve got two objects striking into each other, the amount of energy that goes in the opposite direction after they hit is not being absorbed by the compression of that bat, so the ball’s going further. I understand that point.”
But the potential for the type of injury suffered by Colvin, Macha said, is reason enough to eliminate the bats, regardless of the difference in performance between the hard maple wood and softer ash.
Rogers unavailable ahead of first start Friday
MILWAUKEE — Though they would have liked to get him another relief appearance, Brewers pitching prospect Mark Rogers’ next appearance will be his Friday start.
Rogers threw a side session in the bullpen Sunday, and is scheduled for another Tuesday in preparation for his first career start. As a result, he’s unavailable out of the bullpen this week.
“I was kind of hoping to get him in one more game,” manager Ken Macha said. “But [pitching coach] Rick [Peterson] said that he felt that [Rogers] could benefit more from doing two sides days than getting an inning in.”
Rogers is scheduled to start Friday in the Brewers’ second of four games against the Marlins. If everything goes according to plan with that start, Rogers could start a second time on the road against the Mets or Reds.
Gomez earns another start in center field
MILWAUKEE — With the impact he had on the Brewers’ recent road trip, Carlos Gomez earned yet another start in center field on Monday against the Reds.
Gomez got the day off Sunday in San Francisco in favor of rookie Lorenzo Cain, who had been the Brewers’ starting center fielder for much of August and early September. On Monday, though, manager Ken Macha went back to Gomez for his sixth start in seven games.
“I didn’t want to forget about Cain, but Gomez has been impacting the games,” Macha said. “So I just put Cain in there yesterday and get Gomez back in there today. … He basically won the game in Houston the last day and then had a tremendous impact on one of the games in San Francisco that we won.
“So he’s earned the playing time.”
Gomez batted .400 on the road trip, collecting eight hits in 20 at-bats along with four stolen bases and a pair of RBIs. With Cain struggling, Macha gave Gomez as many starts in those six games as he had in the club’s previous 40 contests.
As for his other right-handed center fielder, Macha opted not to give any evaluation of Cain.
“You can take either sample size on both sides of the line of demarcation and try to determine what is going to be relevant on down the line,” Macha said. “So let’s hold off on drawing a conclusion.
“I’m not going to make the statement that the league has figured him out.”
MILWAUKEE — After a thrilling series-opening win Monday, the Brewers’ hopes of making a run toward getting back into the playoff race were high. Two days later, a pair of blowout losses have taken a toll on such a positive outlook.
What a difference a couple days can make.
Like it has many times this season, the sixth inning loomed large for the Brewers on Wednesday. Over 103 games, the Brewers have given up 69 earned runs in the frame, good for a 6.03 ERA, which is tied with the first inning for the worst this season for the Crew.
Left-handed starter Chris Narveson combined with Kameron Loe to surrender five runs on five hits and two walks in the sixth, as the Brewers lost their second straight game to the Reds, 10-2, to drop the series and fall back to seven games under .500.
After tossing five scoreless innings and entering the top of the sixth with a two-run lead, Narveson (8-7) did not record an out, while loading the bases on a pair of singles and a walk.
“It was tough, because you had two ground balls in that inning, both where if they’re hit at somebody, you can get an out. One ball, you could get a double play on,” Narveson said. “It’s funny how the game is.
“It just kind of snowballed from there for us.”
Manager Ken Macha said he made the decision to remove Narveson because the Brewers had a rested bullpen after limiting the number of relievers needed a night earlier.
First out of the ‘pen was Loe, who entered the game with a 1.44 ERA over 25 appearances. He gave up two hits and walked a batter before getting the first out of the inning.
Tagged for two runs on three hits and a walk in two-thirds of an inning, Loe also allowed all three inherited runners to score. Entering the game, Loe had stranded 18 of 23 inherited runners.
While Loe was able to get the Reds to hit it on the ground as intended, their grounders did not work out the way he would have liked.
“They hit them too hard. I want soft ground balls, feeble contact,” Loe said. “They might have been ground balls, but not the kind I would have liked. They hit good pitches, too, so give them credit.
“They’ve got a good lineup, man. All series, I didn’t see too many bad swings.”
Loe’s ERA jumped to 1.97, but his performance in the sixth paled in comparison to the rough eighth inning for Carlos Villanueva.
With the Brewers hanging around down just three runs, Villanueva entered in the eighth to hold the Reds in check and give the top of the Brewers’ order a chance to turn the game around in the bottom half of the frame.
Instead, after playing plenty of small ball over the first seven innings, the Reds showed off the power stroke in the eighth.
Villanueva gave up a pair of singles and walked pinch-hitter Mike Leake, before surrendering a towering grand slam to deep left field off the bat of Brandon Phillips. Two batters later, Joey Votto put another out to left, making it 10-2 and putting the game out of reach.
“That grand slam just opened the game wide open,” Macha said. “The first rally, the first five runs, they put the ball in play, they give you good at-bats with two strikes, they’re not afraid to hit the ball the other way.
“Starting the second rally, we got bunts for a base hit, they got the hit-and-run there, the squeeze play, they stole some bases on us here. They’ve got a lot of ways to score.”
Offensively for the Brewers, left fielder Ryan Braun and Jonathan Lucroy each drove in a run as the Crew took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth.
While the game was still in reach in the seventh, center fielder Carlos Gomez led off with a double to the corner in left. He tried to stretch it to a triple, though, and was thrown out a third by Reds left fielder Jonny Gomes.
“I got him on the hop all the way from the wall. It was good,” Gomes said. “It was only 5-2 at the time. A leadoff triple might turn the game around. It was a big out for us.”
Afterward, Gomez shared a similar mindset with Gomes as he defended his mistake.
“In a situation like this, you want to make something happen and wake up the team,” Gomez said.
Milwaukee was unable to put anything together the rest of the way, as second baseman Rickie Weeks’ leadoff single in the eighth would be the last hit of the game for the Crew.
Adding insult to injury, first baseman Prince Fielder was ejected by home-plate umpire Mike DiMuro after he was called out on strikes to end the eighth inning.
After putting together a Miller Park-best seven-game home win streak and winning five in a row overall, the Brewers head to Houston having lost two in a row and dropping back to nine games out of first place in the National League Central.
“I think we just look up to the next series,” Narveson said. “We leave this behind us and try to go into Houston and get right back on that winning streak.
“It’s all about winning games.”
Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
MILWAUKEE — Jim Edmonds had quite the night off for the Brewers on Friday.
Edmonds, who has been slowed by an injured right Achilles tendon, was not in the starting lineup against Nationals right-hander Craig Stammen. But when All-Star right fielder Corey Hart went down with a right wrist injury in the third, Edmonds’ number was called.
With the Brewers not taking batting practice before Friday’s game due to their late travels home from Pittsburgh, Edmonds had not even thrown a ball or swung a bat prior to Hart’s injury.
Three at-bats later, Edmonds delivered a two-run, game-winning homer off Nationals lefty Sean Burnett, giving Milwaukee a 7-5 victory over Washington in the series opener.
“Considering I was sleeping on the couch about 20 minute … no, just kidding,” Edmonds joked of how great the night turned out for him. “But that’s kind of how this game is. It’s kind of wild.”
Edmonds’ home run capped a six-run rally over three innings by the Brewers that allowed the Crew to overcome a 5-1 deficit going into the bottom of the fifth inning.
Rookie shortstop Alcides Escobar got things started in the fifth with a single. Lefty starter Chris Narveson followed with one of his own — of the broken-bat variety — which scored Escobar from second after the shortstop advanced on defensive indifference.
After a Rickie Weeks walk advanced Narveson to second, a bloop single to left by Edmonds scored the Brewers’ starter, cutting the lead to 5-3.
An inning later, it was Escobar again, this time with a little help from speedy center fielder Carlos Gomez.
With two out and a runner on first, Gomez ripped a cutter into the gap in left-center field and raced around the bases to third for a triple.
“Every time I hit the ball to the gap, I’m not thinking it’s a double, I always think triple,” Gomez said. “I never look at anybody, I go straight to third, no matter what. They have to throw me out at third.”
Escobar followed the triple with a double to left, scoring Gomez and tying the game at 5. With the double, Escobar finished 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored.
“I feel pretty good about the way Escobar’s swung the bat over the course of the year,” manager Ken Macha said. “Three hits tonight, all line drives and he didn’t overswing at all.”
With the offensive performances of Gomez, Escobar and Narveson, it was a pretty good night for the bottom of the Brewers’ batting order.
Batting seventh, eighth and ninth for, Gomez, Escobar and Narveson combined to go 5-for-10 with three runs scored, two RBIs, a double and a triple.
Conversely, the Brewers’ Nos. 3, 4 an 5 hitters — Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder and Casey McGehee — went 1-for-10 with an RBI and a run scored. More importantly, though, the bottom of the order delivered when Milwaukee trailed midway through the game.
For the Nationals, it was a tough loss to swallow after shutting down the Brewers’ sluggers.
“They really played. Milwaukee was down. The bottom of the order did a lot of damage,” said Nationals manager Jim Riggleman. “Our guys played hard, we played clean. We just weren’t able to add on. Mike Morse had a great game for us.”
Morse, the Nationals’ right fielder, went 2-for-3 with a pair of home runs, two runs scored and a career-high four RBIs.
The multi-homer effort was a career first for Morse, on whom the Brewers did not have much of a scouting report.
“To be honest with you, I didn’t have much on him,” Narveson said of Morse. “I knew he was aggressive, but with guys on first and second [in the second inning], it’s a bad time to sit there and find that out after the first pitch.
“He’s a good hitter, he did what he was supposed to do.”
After struggling through the second, Narveson gave up runs in each of the third and fourth innings before retiring the final nine batters he faced in the fourth, fifth and sixth.
His ability to get to the sixth was crucial for the Brewers, whose bullpen has been overworked and is short with lefty Zach Braddock being unavailable over the weekend.
It also allowed Kameron Loe (1-1) to come in and pitch an impressive two innings, allowing just one hit and striking out a pair. Behind him was closer John Axford, who retired the Nationals in order to pick up his 14th save of the season.
Narveson’s rough second inning put the spotlight on the Brewers pitching staff once again Friday night.
When asked about it afterward, Macha did not express much concern about his staff.
“Talking to [GM Doug Melvin] today, we’ve won eight out of the last 12. So let’s not get so down on the pitching staff,” Macha said. “Chris is in his first full year in the big leagues and we’ve got a catcher [Jonathan Lucroy] that’s fresh out of Double-A. So there’s a lot of work to do to get that consistency.
“All things considered, it’s gone pretty well.”
Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
Parra recalls perfect game in Minors
MILWAUKEE — Three years ago this weekend, Brewers lefty Manny Parra had the best performance of his professional career when he tossed a perfect game for Triple-A Nashville.
In his second Pacific Coast League start, Parra retired 27 consecutive batters for the Sounds on June 25, 2007. Current Brewers bullpen coach Stan Kyles remembers the game well, as he was serving as the Sounds’ pitching coach at the time.
“It was the most dominating performance I’ve ever seen,” Kyles said. “He had 11 strikeouts, no balls were put in play hard, and it was just the best performance I’ve seen on the mound up close and personal. It was really impressive.”
What made the perfect game even more impressive was the way Parra’s bullpen session had gone prior to the game.
After struggling in his previous outing, Parra was not confident in his stuff as he warmed up. Once he reached the mound, however, everything changed.
“I remember when I was out in the bullpen, thinking it was going to be a struggle out there that day,” Parra said. “But when I got out to the mound, everything started going my way.
There was one ball, hit about five feet fair toward third, but just before reaching the bag it rolled foul. That was the one where I was like, ‘Wow, this could really happen.'”
Parra’s perfect game was the first thrown in the PCL since the Sounds’ John Wasdin did so on April 7, 2003.
“It’s something I never expected would happen to me,” Parra said. “I’ve always said I was not the kind of pitcher that would ever throw a no-hitter or perfect game because I tend to give up a lot of hits. That day, though, everything just came together for me.”
Gomez striving to be everyday player
MILWAUKEE — When the Brewers brought Carlos Gomez in from Minnesota, he was expected to be the club’s everyday center fielder. Despite his recent struggles, that’s still his goal.
“I want to play everyday no matter what happens at the plate,” Gomez said. “Everybody knows when they signed me that I was supposed to be the everyday center fielder.”
Brewers manager Ken Macha sees the potential in Gomez, but he has had a hard time keeping him in the lineup lately with his struggles at the plate.
For now, it appears as though Gomez will start against left-handed pitching and veteran center fielder Jim Edmonds will get the nod against righties. Like Gomez, though, Macha would like Gomez to improve to the point of facing both right-handers and southpaws.
“The plan was for [Gomez] to face right-handers also,” Macha said. “After he came off the DL and Jimmy was on the DL, he played against right-handers and he struggled.
“So hopefully we’ll get him to the point where he can be an everyday guy.”
For Gomez, the situation is much like the one he faced in Minnesota last season before the Twins traded him to the Brewers.
Gomez struggled to find playing time in a crowded outfield that featured three young outfielders in Delmon Young, Denard Span, and Gomez. According to Gomez, the one benefit of moving to the National League this season is being able to pinch-hit or enter as part of a double switch in any game.
Even with that, however, Gomez is not excited about the situation he’s faced with.
“I don’t want to be in this situation every year,” Gomez said. “I’m only 24 years old, and it’s happened to me two years in a row now. But they know what I can do if I play everyday. Good things can happen.”
Coffey needs time to freshen up to bigs
MILWAUKEE — Only time can help Brewers reliever Todd Coffey get back to the point he was at before going on the disabled list June 6.
Coffey struggled Tuesday in his first outing since returning, allowing two runs to score on two hits, as he did not record an out over three batters faced.
“The first one, probably, he doesn’t want to rehash that one,” said Milwaukee skipper Ken Macha. “[Saturday], he had a little lapse on covering first base, so that wasn’t good. Otherwise, he would’ve had a 1-2-3 inning. He threw the ball good.”
Though he made just one rehab appearance with Triple-A Nashville before returning, Coffey did not believe any additional time with the Sounds would have made a difference.
According to Coffey, pitching in the Minor Leagues does not do nearly as much as getting back into a pressure situation in the Majors after three weeks off.
“The first outing was a little shaky, but it was the first time I was really competitive in almost 20 days,” Coffey said. “Yesterday was definitely a step forward. I feel like I’m getting back on track.
“It’s not about the feeling off the mound down there, it’s about the feeling off the mound up here against big league hitters. It’s just going to take time. I took 20 days off, so it’s just going to take some time to get comfortable again.”
Brewers unveil top moment of 1980s
MILWAUKEE — With nearly 40 percent of the vote, Cecil Cooper’s two-run single in Game 5 of the 1982 ALCS against the Angels was selected as the top Brewers moment from the 1980s in fan and media voting.
Fittingly, all fans in attendance on Sunday received a bobblehead commemorating the hit.
Cooper’s game-winning hit gave the Brewers the American League pennant and advanced the club to its first World Series in franchise history.
Behind Cooper’s single, it was a close race for second place, as two moments from the 1987 season were decided by just 2.2 percent of the vote.
Dale Sveum’s walk-off home run on Easter Sunday, which extended the Brewers’ win streak to 12 games to open the season, edged out Juan Nieves’ no-hitter, which came just four days earlier.
The unveiling of the Top 3 moments from the 1980s occurred at 1 p.m. CT on broadcasts and in Miller Park. The same process will occur for the ’90s and 2000s, with separate polls and reveals for each decade.
On Sept. 3, the polls will open again at Brewers.com and fans will be asked to vote for their Top 3 moments in Brewers history from the group of Top 12 “finalist” moments (Top 3 moments from each decade).
Veteran center fielder Jim Edmonds celebrated his 40th birthday on Sunday. … With his appearance on Saturday, Trevor Hoffman moved into a tie for 11th place on the all-time games pitched list. … Sunday is the Brewers’ final Interleague contest of 2010. Despite going 5-10 last season and just 92-106 in the history of Interleague Play, Milwaukee entered Sunday’s contest with an 8-6 record against the AL this season and is guaranteed a winning record for the sixth time since Interleague Play began in 1997 — the first time since 2007.
MILWAUKEE — It was a dream come true for Jonathan Lucroy.
After belting his first career home run with a three-run shot in the fourth and a subsequent curtain call, the Brewers rookie catcher will never forget Friday night’s 8-3 victory against Seattle.
Entering the series opener against the Mariners, Lucroy had just one extra-base hit and zero RBIs in his Major League career. Following his performance Friday, he now has three of each.
“It was amazing,” Lucroy said of the curtain call. “I don’t know what happened, but somebody kind of pushed me up there. It was all kind of a blur after I crossed home plate.
“As soon as I did it, [Carlos Gomez] hit a home run and I was like, ‘Man, that’s what I’m talking about.’ I wanted to beat that team tonight.”
Lucroy’s home run to the Brewers bullpen in left-center came on a 1-2 fastball from Mariners lefty Ryan Rowland-Smith.
Two pitches later, Rowland-Smith (1-7) missed with a 1-0 changeup, which Gomez belted to left to put the Brewers on top, 4-3, in the fourth.
“The first time, I was just trying to get it up and in and I left it out over the plate,” Rowland-Smith said. “Gomez I think was sitting [changeup], and I threw a changeup for a strike. That’s two pitches that really cost me, obviously.”
Lucroy and Gomez quickly turned around a game that looked like it was headed for a Brewers loss, and right-handed starter Dave Bush. Over six innings, Bush (3-5) allowed three runs — two earned — on seven hits with no walks and three strikeouts.
Once he had the lead, Bush faced just 10 batters over the final three innings of his outing, giving up a pair of singles.
Both times, however, the Mariners who hit safely were thrown out.
First, leading off the fourth, shortstop Jack Wilson was thrown out by left fielder Ryan Braun as he looked to stretch a single into a double. An inning later, Bush got Franklin Gutierrez to bounce a ball to third baseman Casey McGehee, who threw out Chone Figgins as he tried to score from third.
While there was only one out in the inning, Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu felt it was a crucial opportunity for the club to score a run.
“You try to force that fourth run across,” Wakamatsu said. “We haven’t done a very good job of scoring runners, so you take your opportunity there. The thing we talk about is just not hitting the ground ball to third base anytime you’ve got a runner on third base, and we did it.”
Following that out, Bush retired the final four batters he faced, putting himself in line to grab his third win of the season and his second straight.
For Bush, who was pitching on nine days’ rest instead of his usual four, the key was overcoming some early struggles that could be attributed to the long layoff.
“I was a little bit rusty in the first couple innings, I was just trying to find a rhythm,” Bush said. “After that I settled in and I was able to get my fastball back down. In the first couple innings I was up in the zone a lot.
“It was a bit of a challenge to have that much time off, but that’s what I’m faced with right now, so I’ve got to be ready for it and do the best I can.”
Bush’s start was the ninth quality start by a Brewers starter in the club’s last 13 games. Over that stretch, Milwaukee has a 3.02 ERA, giving up 28 earned runs over 83 1/3 innings pitched.
Brewers starters have gone 7-4 during that stretch while the club has posted an 8-5 mark, including a current season-high five-game winning streak.
“It’s been good for everyone,” Bush said. “Overall, we’ve played a lot better lately. … We’ve just been playing better baseball all around. We’ve hit better, we’ve pitched better, we’ve played better defense.
“It lightens the mood all the way around inside here. Guys are more excited about being here, because we’re playing better. We’re playing closer to our potential.”
Even with the winning streak, the story of the night was the performance by Lucroy.
After the home run in the fourth, Lucroy added a walk, a double and a run scored in his final two at-bats, to finish 2-for-3 on the night with a homer, double and three RBIs.
“It’ll be something I’ll always remember,” Lucroy said. “It’s something you work for your whole life. For me, it was since I was 12, being a catcher.
“For something like that to happen in a situation like that, I think for me it’s pretty euphoric and unbelievable.”