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No shortage of praise for Hoffman in Brewers clubhouse

September 9, 2010 Comments off

Following last night’s thriller, which featured career save No. 600 for Trevor Hoffman, we had a sidebar on his Brewers teammates’ reactions to the moment.

While that story captured the emotions and feelings in the clubhouse, there was far too much to fit in after the game. With a guy like Hoffman who’s frequently described as the “best teammate,” there was hardly of lack of things to say in the home clubhouse.

Braun: “Like we were going to the playoffs”

According to left fielder Ryan Braun, the emotion following the final out of the game was far greater than the meaningless early September game that it starter out as.

“It felt like we were going to the playoffs,” he said. “It was exciting. I think it was exciting for all of us to have something to celebrate, for all of us to have been a part of something so special. That’s something that we might not ever see again. Who knows if anybody else ever gets to 600 saves.”

Coffey: “I was 100 percent spectator”

Perhaps most excited about the achievement — more so even than Hoffman himself — were Hoffman’s bullpen mates.

Reliever Todd Coffey described his feelings as “beyond goosebumps” as he become more of a spectator than a teammate. After that, he went on for a few minutes about the emotions he felt both when Hoffman entered the game and recorded his 600th save.

“As soon as he walked out of the bullpen, the entire bullpen was up and I think we were all clapping louder than the fans, we were hollering louder than the fans,” Coffey said. “I don’t think any of us actually realized we were in the bullpen. We were all out there with Hoffy.

“We were hanging over, we even thought about, ‘let’s just jump the wall and go. Then we thought, ‘we better not jump the wall.’

“I think me, Zach [Braddock] and Kam[eron Loe] all hit the pile at the same time. I think I felt the whole pile moving when we hit it. It’s an experience that I’ll never forget. He’s always there for every one of us. For us to be there for him, it’s amazing. He cares less about himself and more about his teammates than anything else.”

Davis: “Just incredible”

Others had less to say, but their thoughts were no less insightful.

Veteran left-handed starter Doug Davis recalled being part of a similar moment early in his career.

“Definitely the most exciting thing I’ve ever been a part of,” Davis said. “My first win was John Wetteland’s 300th save. I thought that was impressive, but this, twice as many saves, it’s just incredible.”

Bush: “An amazing number”

Another Brewers starter, right-hander Dave Bush, took particular notice of the number of people in the dugout during that final inning, as everyone wanted the best view they could get of Hoffman’s historic save.

“It’s an amazing number, one that nobody’s ever gotten to before,” Bush said. “I can’t even fathom at all what it takes to reach that.

“It was exciting. Probably the most people I’ve ever seen in the dugout in the ninth inning. Everybody was coming down here because they wanted to be as close to it as they could. As a player, moments like that are few and far between. To be his teammate and to be around for something like is just awesome.”

Lucroy: “I’m totally lucky and blessed”

After beginning the season at Double-A Huntsville, catcher Jonathan Lucroy called the game Tuesday night, including Hoffman’s thrilling ninth.

As he waited on the mound for the all-time saves leader, with “Hell’s Bells” blaring from the stadium speakers, Lucroy said he had goosebumps and began to shake from the nerves.

He stayed relaxed behind the plate, though, and didn’t change a thing. Until the final out as he ran down toward first base.

“It’s something that I’ll remember for the rest of my life and cherish,” Lucroy said. “To be able to remember something like that, it’s a blessing for me to even be able to experience it.

“To see him achieve a goal like that is just something that every baseball player lives for. It couldn’t have happened to a better guy. He totally deserves it. It’s an honor for me to even be here and just experience it.

“I was jacked up and excited. I told myself I was going to sacrifice my life to get an out for him if I needed to. I was going to go everything I could to get an out, no matter what I had to do, I was going to sacrifice everything for him.

“For somebody like that, to put in the kind of work he has, to play for as long as he has, and have the kind of character that he has, and for something like that to happen to him, and for me to even be there and be a part of it, it’s an unbelievable feeling.

“I was the first one [to the mound]. Usually I run down to first base and back up on ground balls, but I cut it off halfway. I was going to go get there first as fast as I could. I grabbed him and he grabbed me in a headlock and then everybody else hit and we went at it.

“It’s not very often you see grown men crying out there and there were grown men crying on the field. It was very emotional, I was trying to hold back as best I could. It’s just the payoff for so much hard work and just shows you that if you work hard and be a good person in this game there’s a lot of good things that happen to you.

“I’m totally lucky and blessed to even be here. To experience that, I don’t even deserve that. I don’t even deserve to be on the same field as that guy.”

Axford: “My heart was racing the entire time”

Of course, no story about Hoffman’s historic accomplishment would be complete without some mention of his replacement, rookie John Axford.

As has been the case all season, Axford had nothing but positive things to say about his mentor in the Brewers bullpen.

“He’s meant everything to my development because he carries about his business perfectly. He does everything right,” Axford said. “That’s been the best mentor for me. I just try to watch him and see what he does and see how I can build upon that. Every time I go out there I just try and do right by Trevor. I just want to do basically what Trevor would do and do things the right way.

“My heart was racing the entire time once the ‘Hell’s Bells’ started. My heart was going and it didn’t stop the entire time until we’re actually here right now and I’m still talking a mile a minute. I still feel the emotion and the rush from it. I think it was absolutely unbelievable.”

“It’s a cool kind of turn around. At the beginning of the year, I got my first save and Hoffy went in and got a hold for me. Now I got to go in and save that game for him, which is probably going to be the best hold of my entire life right there. I’m definitely glad I was in that game for sure.”

McGehee: “The ultimate professional”

Third baseman Casey McGehee admitted he was nervous when Hoffman entered the game. In fact, he was just hoping the ball wasn’t hit to him.

Once the final out had been recorded, however, McGehee was thrilled to be a part of such a big moment and to have played with someone who is the all-time leader in any category.

“I think the reaction of all the guys kind of let everybody see how important to this team and to us he is,” McGehee said. “You couldn’t have asked for it to happen to a better guy. He’s the ultimate professional with everything he does.

“There’s not too many people you played with that you can say you played with the all-time best anything. When my career is over and I’m sitting around telling stories at a bar somewhere, that’s going to be one of the ones I tell.

“You can’t block that out, we all knew what was going on. Most of us, we’re huge fans of the game. Coming up, we remember watching Trevor Hoffman when he was in his prime and he was virtually unhittable. To be any small part of it, it’s pretty special.

“Some of these guys that got called up today, first day in the big leagues, not a bad way to start your big league career.”

Fielder: “Happy to be a part of it”

The final out was recorded by Prince Fielder, as veteran shortstop Craig Counsell fielded a ground ball and fired to Fielder at first.

As Fielder closed his first-baseman’s mitt on the ball, he joined McGehee and Lucroy as the first three players to embrace Hoffman on the mound.

“It was awesome,” Fielder said. “Coming into this year, you knew he was close to getting it. Everything he had to go through to get to it and he finally got it, I’m really happy for him. It’s really awesome.

“It [ranks] up there just because it’s your teammate and it’s a really special moment and something that nobody else has ever done. That’s what makes it even more special and I’m just really happy to be a part of it.

Narveson: “Pretty amazing”

But none of it would have been possible had it not been for an impressive seven-inning performance by lefty starter Chris Narveson.

His brilliance on the mound was lost in the shuffle, but everything was set up by one of Narveson’s best starts of the 2010 season.

“That was pretty amazing,” Narveson said. “To be able to witness it and be the guy that started that game, was pretty special.”

Morton roughed up in return vs. Crew

August 30, 2010 Comments off

MILWAUKEE — Three months away didn’t change much for Charlie Morton.

Whatever the Pirates right-hander had going for him in 14 starts with Triple-A Indianapolis seemed to escape him on Sunday as the Pirates lost, 8-4, to the Brewers at Miller Park.

Morton (1-10) delivered one of his roughest performances of the season in the series finale, surrendering eight runs (seven earned) on nine hits, with one walk and two strikeouts over just 3 1/3 innings of work.

“[Morton] just didn’t execute quality pitches,” Pirates manager John Russell said. “I think he threw a few too many offspeed pitches and didn’t really get aggressive with his fastball. Just not enough quality pitches. When he throws that many offspeed pitches, then he loses the aggressiveness of really being able to pound the zone.”

After leading off the inning with a hit batter, Morton gave up a two-run homer to Ryan Braun in the fourth, which spelled the end of his outing.

Things didn’t go any smoother in the first three innings for Morton, either.

After retiring the first batter he faced, Morton allowed three singles and a walk in a four-batter span. Coupled with a throwing error charged to Morton himself, the Brewers put three runs on the board in the bottom of the first.

Following a four-batter second inning, the third inning featured four singles, a stolen base and a passed ball, all of which amounted to another three runs for the Brewers. All this came after a two-run homer in the first by Neil Walker, which gave Morton a lead to work with early on.

According to Morton, some early success by the Brewers when he threw his fastball led to him changing the way he approached hitters.

“Early on, they seemed to be on my four-seamer pretty good,” Morton said. “I was throwing my sinker, but I was falling behind in some counts. With my sinker, I was inducing less firm contact, but I got beat bad on a couple curveballs I left up in the zone.”

In two starts this season for Morton against the Brewers, the results have not been pretty. On April 20, he allowed six runs (five earned) on six hits and three walks in one inning of work, facing 12 batters and tossing 58 pitches before being removed in the second inning of the Pirates’ 8-1 loss.

For the season, Morton has given up 12 earned runs on 15 hits and four walks over 4 1/3 innings of work against the Brewers, good for an 0-2 record and a 24.94 ERA.

Overall this season, Morton drops to 1-10 with a 10.03 ERA, allowing 52 earned runs on 75 hits over 46 2/3 innings pitched. In 14 starts for Indianapolis between his late May demotion and Sunday’s loss, Morton was impressive, posting a 3.82 ERA as he allowed 34 earned runs on 83 hits over 80 innings of work. Morton also recorded 53 strikeouts against 30 walks.

While his manager said he would get another chance to start, Morton’s return did not exactly go as the 26-year-old right-hander would have liked.

“To come back and work at getting back, obviously the first start back you want to do better than I did today,” said Morton, who was coming off a six-inning outing for Indianapolis in which he allowed zero runs on four hits with four strikeouts.

Ryan Doumit added a solo homer in the fourth and Delwyn Young added another in the seventh, but that was all the offense the Pirates would muster for the game.

Brewers starter Dave Bush wasn’t sharp, but he tossed seven innings, giving up four runs (three earned) on seven hits, with two walks and four strikeouts. All the damage done by the Pirates against Bush came on Walker, Doumit and Young’s three home runs.

With the loss, the Pirates dropped their 13th consecutive road contest, which amounts to the club having been swept in each of its past four series on the road since taking two of three in Colorado on July 27-29.

It also marks the third time this season the Pirates have been swept by the Brewers, with the other two coming April 20-22 at PNC Park and July 9-11 at Miller Park. Since snapping a 22-game road losing streak to the Brewers on April 27, the Pirates have gone 4-9 against Milwaukee and 1-6 at Miller Park.

The consensus in the visitors’ clubhouse over the past three days has been that things never seem to come easy when the Pirates face the Brewers, regardless of the outcome.

“When I got here in ’06, I was told it had been the other way around, that we couldn’t really beat the Pirates at all,” Bush said. “I didn’t know any better, but I remember hearing guys talk about it. We won a few games that year, and guys seemed relieved by it, I guess.

“It’s turned around a little bit in the past few years. I know we had that really long winning streak against them broken up [22 consecutive home wins], and since then we’ve had some really good games. There have been some heated games, and some good games back and forth.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Barajas’ three-hit debut propels Dodgers

August 24, 2010 Comments off

MILWAUKEE — Growing up in Southern California, catcher Rod Barajas dreamed of some day playing for the Dodgers. Once given the opportunity, Barajas made the most of it.

Before the game Tuesday night, Dodgers manager Joe Torre talked about the offense his new catcher could provide and how that could boost his ballclub. In particular, Torre talked about Barajas being a home run threat.

Coming into a new clubhouse as he joined the Dodgers in Milwaukee, Barajas just wanted to get the first hit out of the way. He did a lot more than that.

Barajas was even better at the plate than advertised in his first game in a Dodgers uniform, going 3-for-4 with two doubles and a three-run homer in a 5-3 victory over the Brewers.

“It was nice,” Barajas said. “I try not to do too much. I was excited, nervous, a little bit of everything. I think getting that first base hit — something I’ve never really done in my career, hit a ball down the line like that — kind of got the nerves out of the way.

“From there on, it was just regular baseball.”

Barajas’ blast, off Brewers starter Dave Bush with two out in the sixth, put the Dodgers back on top and proved to be the eventual game-winner in the first of a three-game set with the Crew at Miller Park.

It was the 13th home run of the season for Barajas, who also increased his RBI total to 37 on the season. Perhaps more significant for Barajas, it was his first homer with the Dodgers.

“It’s been exciting,” he said of the last 48 hours. “The fact that I came to the Dodgers was the real exciting part. If it was any other team, then I probably wouldn’t be as excited. But being an L.A. boy and growing up cheering for these guys, I was nervous coming in here meeting new guys and performing with all my family and friends watching.

“They’ve said all along, we’d love to have you over here. I was afraid that if I didn’t do well, I’d get some bad text messages. It’s been a little hectic, but it’s been great.”

With the Dodgers trailing 3-2 at the time, Barajas came to the plate with two on and two out, following back-to-back singles by Ronnie Belliard and Jamey Carroll.

Given a 2-2 slider that caught too much of the plate, Barajas jumped on it, belting the pitch from Bush into the Brewers bullpen in left-center.

“It was supposed to be a slider around the bottom of the zone,” Bush said. “It just backed up. It was a terrible pitch, no two ways about it. It didn’t do much of anything.”

While Barajas made an excellent first impression, left-handed starter Ted Lilly has been doing so for the past three weeks.

Lilly continued to impress, tossing 6 1/3 innings while giving up just three runs on seven hits with a walk and two strikeouts. Lilly (8-8) has enjoyed success throughout his career against the Brewers, posting a 5-2 record with a 3.54 ERA. This season, Lilly has allowed just four runs over 22 1/3 innings against the Crew.

Since joining the Dodgers at the Trade Deadline, Lilly has gone 5-0 with a 1.84 ERA, giving up just seven runs over 34 1/3 innings in five starts.

While his performance Tuesday night was decidedly uncharacteristic for Lilly, the lefty was fortunate enough to escape with just the three runs allowed against a potent Brewers lineup.

“I got away with quite a few pitches,” Lilly said. “I just wasn’t locating. I was leaving just about everything arm side on all my misses. We got some good ‘D’ and I got away with a few and a few of the balls that were hit hard, were right at guys.

“Fortunately, we came up with some big hits.”

Most impressive defensively was a big double play turned by Belliard at third base in the eighth.

Following a one-out double by Prince Fielder, Belliard snagged a hard liner off the bat of Casey McGehee and fired quickly to second base, doubling off Fielder and ending the inning.

“Heck of a play. So quick,” Torre said. “It’s not easy catching a ball and then getting rid of it, but to throw over the runner too, that was a huge play in that inning.”

The Dodgers had fallen behind just an inning before Barajas’ home run on a two-out solo home run off the bat of Rickie Weeks, which was followed by an Alcides Escobar single and Ryan Braun’s RBI double into the corner in left field.

Those two runs put the Brewers on top after the Dodgers had taken an early 2-0 lead.

In the second, the Dodgers’ other two runs came on another homer, as center fielder Matt Kemp belted a ball off the scoreboard in center field, measuring an estimated 447 feet.

Kemp and Barajas continued the Dodgers’ recent power surge, which has seen the club smack seven home runs in the last three games while scoring 15 runs on 30 hits.

Before this current stretch, the Dodgers had scored 17 runs in the previous eight games.

“Hopefully we can build on something,” Torre said. “We keep threatening to, we just need to do that. We need to win a handful of games. But you can only do it one game at a time.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Axford, Loe at it again in Crew’s tight victory

August 19, 2010 Comments off

ST. LOUIS — There was a time when bringing in Kameron Loe and John Axford out of the Brewers’ bullpen was as sure a sign of a Brewers victory as anything.

Things have gotten a bit more interesting lately, but when it comes down to it, Axford and Loe are the Brewers’ No. 1 and No. 2 options out of the ‘pen. If the game is on the line, it’s a pretty safe bet that one, or both, is going to pitch in the late innings.

Lately, even a heavy workload and minor struggles have not been enough to deter manager Ken Macha from making the call for the right-handed duo. More often than not, that strategy has worked out.

With a two-run lead through six innings Tuesday night, Axford and Loe combined for the final three frames as the Crew took the first of a two-game set from the Cardinals, winning, 3-2, at Busch Stadium.

Part of the strategy being successful, Macha conceded, is getting honest assessments from the players about how they feel. The other part is common sense.

“On Sunday, Axford said he was fine, but I wasn’t going to use him because he had been in two out of three days with a lot of pitches,” Macha said.

Pitching for the seventh time in the team’s past 11 games — over a 12-day span — Loe recalled memories of his stellar month of June in Tuesday’s seventh, retiring the Cardinals in order on three groundouts and just 15 pitches. But the eighth inning was a different story.

Just when Loe appeared to be back to his usual, dominant self, he gave up a pair of singles around a grounder to short, prompting Macha to call Axford’s number.

Axford, called upon to pitch more than one inning for the ninth time this season — six of which have been saves — allowed a run on a wild pitch before escaping with the lead intact. In the ninth, Axford shut down St. Louis in order, securing his 18th save of the season.

Axford picked up his sixth save of more than an inning in length in six chances and recorded his ninth appearance of four outs or more. In 36 games this season, Axford has yet to pitch less than a full frame.

“It’s been three in a row now,” Axford said, referring to his save Thursday of 1 2/3 innings and win Saturday, in which he went two full innings. “It’s fine with me, in all honesty. If that’s the way it’s going to be, that’s the way it’s going to be.”

Loe and Axford closed out a stellar performance by right-handed starter Dave Bush, who cruised through six innings, giving up just one run — Albert Pujols’ 31st homer — on four hits and one walk with three strikeouts.

Bush (6-10) left after just 91 pitches due to a blister on his pitching hand. Before that early exit, Bush kept the Cardinals’ hitters off balance all night, allowing no more than one baserunner in any inning.

“The biggest thing was keeping the ball down,” Bush said. “There wasn’t anything in particular that was working unusually well, but I was commanding my fastball down in the zone.”

Bush outdueled rookie Jaime Garcia, whose manager said he was “in some of his best form.”

Garcia (10-6) tossed his 16th quality start of the season and fifth of no earned runs at home, giving up just three unearned runs on five hits over six innings pitched. The left-hander was roughed up in two innings, though, both of which were marked by Felipe Lopez errors.

In the third inning, Lopez’s error proved costly. Brewers third baseman Casey McGehee belted a two-run homer to center field, which capped a three-run inning and proved to be the eventual game-winner.

“We lost that game because of me. That’s all,” Lopez said. “I make those plays, we win.”

After a quiet three-game series in Colorado, McGehee was swinging as hot a bat as ever.

Entering the game just 1-for-7 against Garcia with a walk and a strikeout, McGehee hit the ball hard up the middle in each of his three at-bats, including the two-run homer.

McGehee’s second-inning single was ripped hard off Garcia’s left leg, ricocheting into foul territory on the third-base side. An inning later, McGehee belted his 19th homer of the season.

McGehee has hit safely in 12 of his past 14 games, batting .411 (23-for-56) in that stretch with five home runs and 19 RBIs. In the 21 games since July 25, when he broke a homerless streak, McGehee has gone .370 (30-for-81) with six home runs and 22 RBIs.

“It’s a whole [heck] of a lot of luck,” McGehee joked. “The biggest thing was just confidence, I think. For a while there, I was making it a little too complicated.

“I just tried to get back to trying to playing my game and not be something I’m not.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Hudson shines in D-backs’ homerfest

August 12, 2010 Comments off

MILWAUKEE — While the numbers certainly are impressive, Daniel Hudson really showed what he could do on the mound after a couple mistakes.

He’s made just eight career starts, but Hudson displayed composure like a veteran, bouncing back from a terrible start to the second inning to lead the D-backs to an 8-2 victory over the Brewers on Wednesday.

After striking out the side in the first, Hudson surrendered back-to-back home runs to Prince Fielder and Casey McGehee to open the second.

“I got 3-0 on Fielder, and I know he swings 3-0 all the time, but I know I didn’t want to walk him either the first time through the lineup,” Hudson said. “I just got lucky the scoreboard didn’t fall over after he hit it.

“Then McGehee kind of ambushed me next pitch. You’ve just got to push through that.”

Hudson did, in fine fashion.

Much like fellow young starters, Ian Kennedy and Barry Enright did in the first two games of the series, Hudson shut down the Brewers from then on — retiring 16 of the final 20 batters he faced.

“I thought he showed good composure coming back,” D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. “He was in a couple situations there, where you can see again he has great composure. He makes his pitches when he has to and he gets out of it.”

Hudson went seven innings, allowing just the two runs on seven hits while walking one to go with a career-high nine strikeouts. It was the third straight start of seven or more innings for Hudson since joining the D-backs on July 30.

In the fourth, the offense rewarded Hudson for his composure.

With one out, four D-backs belted consecutive home runs off Brewers starter Dave Bush, tying a Major League record and making Arizona the seventh team to homer in four straight at-bats.

First baseman Adam LaRoche started the run of homers and was followed by Miguel Montero, Mark Reynolds and Stephen Drew, all in the span of 10 pitches.

“It was pretty cool to be a part of it,” Reynolds said. “Rochey and Miggy got things going there and tied it up. [Bush] hung me a curveball, so I was able to put a pretty good swing on it. Stephen came up and hit it in the bullpen, and it was pretty cool.”

It was the second time in as many seasons that the D-backs hit three or more home runs off Bush in an inning at Miller Park. On May 3, 2009, Reynolds and Justin Upton went back-to-back to lead off the seventh inning, and Montero added a third with two out in the D-backs’ 4-3 loss.

Fielder went back-to-back leading off the second inning in that game as well, with Mike Cameron following him against Yusmeiro Petit.

In the sixth, Bush was chased from the game after loading the bases with two walks and a hit batsman. With one out, Hudson ripped an 0-1 fastball from reliever Todd Coffey to the gap in right-center field for a bases-clearing double, putting the game well out of reach.

With the double, Hudson upped his batting average to .222 and he has five RBIs in just eight at-bats. Those numbers certainly don’t make it look like a guy who hasn’t hit since high school.

“He’s got some athletic ability,” Gibson said. “He swings the bat good and that’s just another plus of him. As it goes on he’s going to become a better hitter, and it’s a weapon.”

Hudson (3-0) has dominated since being acquired from the White Sox. Over 22 2/3 innings with Arizona, the 23-year-old right-hander has allowed just four runs on 13 hits, while striking out 17 and walking four.

His performance marked the third straight strong start from the D-backs’ three young starters — Kennedy, Enright and Hudson — in which they have pitched a combined 19 innings, allowing seven runs on 15 hits with five walks and 15 strikeouts.

“The guy has good stuff,” McGehee said. “Good movement, good deception and he threw strikes. You add that all up and you’ve got a pretty good pitcher out there.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

D-backs among seven with four straight HRs

August 12, 2010 Comments off

MILWAUKEE — Back-to-back-to-back-to-back.

With one out in the fourth inning of Wednesday’s 8-2 win over the Brewers, the D-backs connected for home runs in four consecutive at-bats, the first time in franchise history.

Arizona is just the seventh team in Major League history to have four hitters in a row connect for home runs. The feat last occurred on Aug. 14, 2008, when the White Sox did it against the Royals in the bottom of the sixth.

The last time four consecutive home runs were hit in the National League was Sept. 18, 2006, when the Dodgers did it in the bottom of the ninth.

“It’s not very often that happens,” D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. “I was happy to be a part of it for sure. The guys really hit the ball that inning.”

First baseman Adam LaRoche got things started, belting a full-count fastball from Brewers starter Dave Bush deep to right field. Miguel Montero followed with the second, sending a low 1-2 fastball into the seats to tie the game at 2.

At that point, the D-backs had matched the Brewers’ back-to-back home runs of two innings earlier, but they were far from finished.

Mark Reynolds snapped a personal streak of four consecutive strikeouts against Bush, belting a 1-1 curveball to left-center. The last time the D-backs had gone back-to-back-to-back was May 3, 2002, against the Montreal Expos.

“I just wanted to get a hit,” Reynolds said. “I didn’t [care] if it was a homer or a swinging bunt. I’ve been struggling since I got hit in the head. It was a curveball kind of middle away, and I didn’t even swing very hard at it. I just put the barrel on it.”

Finally, shortstop Stephen Drew ripped a 1-0 fastball into the D-backs bullpen in right, tying the Major League record for consecutive home runs.

Drew joins his brother, J.D., as the only brothers to have participated in a string of four straight home runs.

“It was pretty wild,” Drew said. “[LaRoche] starts it off, then you see Miggy hit one and I was like ‘What next?’ Then Mark gets up there and hits one and I’m like, ‘What am I supposed to do here?’

“It’s pretty special. You don’t see that too often, and it’s one of those things that was meant to be, and it was a special time.”

Bush is the first pitcher to give up four straight home runs since Chase Wright — who is now in the Brewers’ system — surrendered four to the Red Sox while with the Yankees in 2007.

J.D. Drew was involved in the Dodgers-Padres feat and in the Red Sox-Yankees game.

“I remember watching it on TV that night when J.D. was with L.A., but I don’t remember the one in Boston,” Drew said. “He’s one up on me.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

McGehee finds power stroke in sweep

July 25, 2010 Comments off

MILWAUKEE — Batting practice was optional on Sunday. But that didn’t stop Casey McGehee from getting out there and putting some work in with hitting coach Dale Sveum.

McGehee, who entered Sunday having hit just .234 with four home runs and 14 RBIs since June 1, was the only Brewers hitter to take batting practice on the field before the game.

Maybe his teammates should let him hit alone more often.

With a three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh inning, McGehee put an exclamation point on the Brewers’ 8-3 victory, helping the team record a sweep over the Nationals.

“It was just me and Dale, we were just talking last night and had some ideas of some stuff that we might want to try, just to get a little better feel,” McGehee said. “Who knows if that had anything to do with it, but I’m just trying to get back to feeling like myself at the plate.”

For McGehee, the blast capped a 2-for-3 day that included a crucial first-inning walk, a double in the fifth, three RBIs and a run scored.

Along with McGehee, second baseman Rickie Weeks helped power the Brewers past the Nationals, belting a two-run homer deep to left in the fourth, which made it 5-0 in the Brewers’ favor.

Weeks’ 20th blast of the season extended the Brewers’ streak to 14 consecutive games with a homer. McGehee’s blast was his 14th this year and his first since July 1 in St. Louis.

“When your pitching is holding you in the games, and one swing of the bat with McGehee or Rickie or Prince [Fielder] or [Ryan Braun] can get you several runs,” said Brewers manager Ken Macha, “you feel like you have a chance to win every game.”

The Brewers got an excellent pitching performance from right-hander Dave Bush and were able to limit the damage of their two errors while taking advantage of two defensive miscues by the Nationals.

Thanks to errors in the first and fourth innings, Nationals starter Ross Detwiler was tagged for five runs on just three hits over 3 2/3 innings. Fortunately for Detwiler, his ERA went unharmed, as all five runs were unearned.

For the Brewers, taking advantage of an opponent’s errors made for a much different story than when the Crew was hurt by errors earlier this month in three losses to the Cardinals and Giants.

“We’ve been on the other side of that, and that’s what happens,” Macha said. “Look what happened in the game in St. Louis and back-to-back games here against San Francisco.

“We had an error and they capitalized and got a bunch of unearned runs. It happens to all the teams.”

Afterward, Nationals manager Jim Riggleman was not happy with his team’s defense.

“We did not have a good day defensively today,” Riggleman said. “Going into the series before the All-Star break and up to the current time, we played better defense. But we certainly didn’t get it done today.”

Bush (5-8) tossed six-plus strong innings, giving up just two earned runs on six hits. More importantly, though, Bush recorded seven strikeouts against zero walks.

Through the first five innings, Bush cruised, retiring 15 of 17 batters faced with just one hit. The key for Bush was his changeup, which he used more often than usual.

“[Jonathan Lucroy] called a couple in the first inning and I got a couple swings and misses on it. I had a decent feel for it today,” Bush said. “It’s typically my fourth pitch. It’s not something I’m going to necessarily use a whole lot, unless I feel like I can put it where I want to and get some outs out of it.

“Today, I felt like I could do that here and there. Lucroy figured that out, too and went to it more than usual.”

Bush ran into trouble in the sixth, leaving curveballs up to the first two hitters. It resulted in a pair of runs coming across on a Josh Willingham sacrifice fly and a single by Adam Dunn. Thanks to a nice defensive play by center fielder Carlos Gomez, though, Bush escaped the inning with the lead intact, stranding a pair.

“I didn’t locate all that well,” Bush said of the sixth. “It was mostly a matter of getting some pitches up and having guys on base.”

With the win, the Brewers picked up their second straight home sweep and improved to 10-4 since July 9.

Milwaukee has won four straight games dating back to the series finale in Pittsburgh on Thursday and six straight at home. Next up for the Crew will be the first-place Cincinnati Reds as it looks to continue its climb back into the race on Monday.

“Any time you can sweep a team, no matter who it is, obviously it is big,” McGehee said. “We’re going to have to do some more of that if we want to make things interesting.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.