Brewers offense stalls in 3-1 loss to Braves

ATLANTA — The Milwaukee Brewers dropped their second straight game Saturday evening, failing to build on an early lead in a 3-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves.

After loading the bases in the first inning and scoring one run, the Brewers couldn’t figure out R.A. Dickey and would get just a single runner in scoring position the remainder of the game. Dickey struck out six Milwaukee batters on the way to his sixth win of the year.

“We didn’t have that many swings and misses the first time through the lineup,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “As we went through the lineup, the swings and misses started increasing, so I think [Dickey] got a better feel for making it move, and we didn’t have that many answers.”

The Brewers went down on strikes 10 times, as outfielder Lewis Brinson went 0-for-4 on the day (3-for-30 since joining the Major League roster).

Matt Garza had a respectable performance on the mound for Milwaukee, throwing six innings and allowing three earned runs on seven hits. But it was his fourth loss in five starts, with an ERA of 6.91 during that span.

Defense helps push Atlanta past the Brewers 5-4

Stellar defense from Atlanta propelled them past Milwaukee 5-4 on Friday night in the first game of a weekend series.

The Braves were clinging to a one-run lead in the eighth inning with one out and two men on base. Pinch hitter Jesus Aguliar smoked a liner down the third base side, which Johan Camargo managed to corral and start an inning-ending double play.

It was shortstop Darby Swanson’s turn for some defensive heroics in the bottom of the ninth. After a lead-off double by Eric Thames, the former first overall pick grabbed a grounder off the bat of Domingo Santana on the second base side. Instead of going to first like most, Swanson pivoted and threw to third, where Camargo applied the tag on a sliding Thames for the first out. Later, Swanson made a diving backhanded stab of a Manny Pina liner for the final out.

“The ball Aguliar hit was a great double play, and the [ball] Domingo hit, that’s a really nice play,” manager Craig Counsell said.

“The game came down, to me, [that] they made some excellent defensive plays at the end of the game.”

Milwaukee also struggled to get much going against Braves starter Mike Foltynewicz. He allowed just one run on four hits in his five innings of work.

“We had some action every inning with him out there,” Counsell said. “We just never got that last hit. Never got a man to third with less than two outs or anything like that. We had men on against him every inning. We were just one hit away.”

Jimmy Nelson (5-4) was tagged with the loss. He also went five innings, giving up four runs in addition to striking out eight. He pitched his final inning in an absolute downpour, and the Braves managed to get a pair of runs off of him there.

“I’m not a weather man. I stay out of that,” Counsell said when asked if he thought the game should be stopped. “The umpires, they’ve got all the information. It’s never an easy call when it’s raining like that.”

Milwaukee will look to bounce back Saturday afternoon with game No. 2 of the series getting underway at 3:10 p.m.

Santana, Arcia help Milwaukee to a 4-3 win against Pittsburgh

Timely hitting from Domingo Santana and a brilliant play from shortstop Orlando Arcia helped Milwaukee get past Pittsburgh 4-3 Wednesday night at Miller Park.

The Brewers never led in the game until the bottom of the seventh. That’s when Santana stepped up to the plate with two outs and drilled what proved to be the game-winning two-run homer. It was his first home run since June 7 and his 12th on the year.

“He’s got opposite field power. We’ve seen it a bunch this year,” manager Craig Counsell said. “That’s a huge spot.”

Arica and first baseman Eric Thames made sure it would hold up. With the tying run on second base, John Jaso sent a grounder up the middle that looked destined for the outfield. But Arcia somehow tracked it down, spun and threw a one-hopper to Thames, who scooped it up for the final out of the game.

“Off the bat, I was like, ‘Oh, shoot,” Thames said. “I was like, ‘Oh, please don’t be a hit.’ Then all of a sudden I see Arcia going for it. I was like, ‘There’s no way he’s going to catch that.’”

But Arcia did, and in doing so made one of the plays of the year so far for the first-place Brewers.

“I was yelling don’t throw it,” Counsell said with a laugh afterwards. “That’s probably what stands out the most.

“It’s a special play in a huge moment.”

Corey Knebel was the benefactor of the play as he picked up his 11th save of the season to help Milwaukee snap a two-game losing streak.

Junior Guerra got the start, going six innings, giving up three runs on seven hits and striking out six.

Milwaukee, which owns a 1.5 game lead on the Cubs in the NL Central, will try to salvage a split of its four-game series with the Pirates Thursday afternoon.

Davies struggles, offense sputters in 7-3 loss to Pirates

MILWAUKEE — The Pittsburgh Pirates jumped out to a 6-0 lead and ultimately hung on for a 7-3 win over the Milwaukee Brewers Tuesday night.

Brewers starter Zach Davies was tagged for all seven runs scored by the Pirates, allowing 10 hits in the process. He left after five innings of work, having yet to make it into the seventh inning this season. In fact, Davies only has three games this season in which he’s thrown six innings. Davies has now allowed 14 earned runs in 15 innings over his last three starts.

“I should be ready from pitch one,” Davies said. “I’m kind of over the mechanical, the sequencing, all those kind of excuses. I think it’s just time to go out and compete.”

But Tuesday night’s loss wasn’t solely on Davies. The offense stranded 21 base runners, with Eric Thames and Manny Piña each going 0-for-5 at the plate. Thames’ last hit was on June 17, making it on base just once since.

One of the few positives for Milwaukee was outfielder Nick Franklin’s two RBI, one of which came on a second-inning home run and the other with an RBI double in the third.

Brewers pitching falls apart in 8-1 loss to Pirates

MILWAUKEE — An area of weakness reared its ugly head as the Milwaukee Brewers fell to the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-1 Monday night.

That weakness was relief pitching. Wily Peralta took over for Matt Garza in the sixth inning only to leave an inning later after allowing four runs to score on five hits. But by the time Peralta was taken out in favor of Paolo Espino, the damage was done and Milwaukee couldn’t climb out of the 8-1 hole.

“I think the ability to create ground balls was really [Peralta’s] strength with his fastball,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said after the loss. “The velocity is usually what makes the slider a better pitch, but we’re not getting either, really.”

The Brewers’ bullpen has now allowed 130 runs this season (third most in MLB), while maintaining its last-place ranking with 19 losses.

But Garza’s 5.1 innings didn’t give Milwaukee the start it needed to succeed, with a sixth inning Andrew McCutchen home run giving the Pirates a 4-1 lead. Opposing pitcher Gerrit Cole even helped his cause with a sacrifice base hit.

The Brewers offense can be summed up by the solo home run in the second inning from Travis Shaw that just escaped over the center field wall. That was one of just five hits Milwaukee recorded on the night.

Brewers power past the Cardinals 6-4

Milwaukee powered its way to a 6-4 win at St. Louis on Thursday night.

After falling behind 2-0 in the first inning, centerfielder Keon Broxton tied things up in the second with a two-run homer that traveled 489-feet – the longest home run in Busch Stadium history. It was also the second-longest homer of the year in the Major Leagues.

“Oh, my gosh. Wow,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said when told afterwards where Broxton’s effort stacked up. “That’s rare air.”

Milwaukee wasn’t done with the long ball, though. With the game tied at four in the ninth inning, first baseman Eric Thames jumped on an 0-2 pitch and drilled it to right field, where it hit the top of the wall and bounced over for a two-run homer.

“(An assistant) and I were discussing whether we should pinch run for (Jesus) Aguilar, (who was on first base),” Counsell said. “When (Thames) hit it, I was like, ‘Oh, no.’ (Thankfully) it got over. I was glad that decision didn’t come back to haunt us.”

Oliver Drake came on in the bottom of the ninth to earn the save, the first of his big league career.
Milwaukee finished its seven-game road trip with a 4-3 record and is now 19-13 away from Miller Park this year.

“It’s another road trip we pulled a winning record from and continued to play good baseball,” Counsell said. “And really just continued to be resilient.”

The win pushed Milwaukee four games over .500 at 36-32, and the team now holds a 2.5 game lead on the Chicago Cubs for first place in the NL Central.

The Brewers will return home on Friday night to open a weekend series against the San Diego Padres.

Rain delays can’t slow Brewers in 7-6 win

ST. LOUIS — The Milwaukee Brewers withstood two rain delays to down the St. Louis Cardinals Wednesday night at Busch Stadium.

First baseman Eric Thames had a big hand in Milwaukee’s win, blasting his 17th home run of the year paired with three RBIs. Most of the game’s offense came in the first two innings, with the Brewers and Cardinals battling back and forth to a 6-4 Milwaukee lead.

“We did a good job again jumping on a starting pitcher early before he got in it, and before he looks up we’ve got six on the board against him, against a really good starting pitcher,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “That’s been a little bit of our formula this year, and then we hung on.”

Milwaukee tagged Mike Leake for nine hits and six earned runs, although he stayed in the game for six innings. Brewers starter Matt Garza returned from the 10-day disabled list to throw five innings of four-run ball. He allowed five hits and struck out four.

The bullpen has been an issue for the Brewers this season, losing a Major League-high 18 games. Designating Neftali Feliz for assignment was meant to cut down on late runs scored, but Jacob Barnes didn’t make things any easier for the Crew, giving up two late runs.

Brewers earn split of doubleheader with Cardinals

ST. LOUIS — After taking a 6-0 loss in the afternoon game, the Milwaukee Brewers came back to win 8-5 in the conclusion of a doubleheader with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Travis Shaw, who recently returned from the family emergency exemption list, hit one of Milwaukee’s three home runs in the win. His RBI single in the eighth inning broke a 5-5 tie before Manny Pina and Keon Broxton helped tack on two additional runs.

“Certainly the last couple games we’ve struggled a little bit,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “To me it wasn’t the biggest number we’ve put on the board but as good an offensive game as we’ve had this year for sure. The eighth inning was great at-bats up and down the lineup. It was really impressive. Hit some home runs and then we put together just a good rally with great at-bats in the eighth.”

The Brewers scored the eight runs on 11 hits, but perhaps the most positive development for Milwaukee was that its bullpen held onto the lead heading into the last two innings. Corey Knebel picked up his ninth save of the year, avoiding further embarrassment for a Brewers bullpen that’s lost 18 games for its team — worst in the MLB.

In Tuesday night’s win, outfielder Lewis Brinson recorded his first hit of his Major League career, finishing 1-for-9 on the day.

Anderson’s start spoiled as Brewers fall to D-Backs 11-1

PHOENIX — Chase Anderson gave the Milwaukee Brewers six innings, allowing just one earned run, but the offense only recorded four hits in an 11-1 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday evening.

A big part of Arizona’s success was its starting pitching. Robbie Ray competed with Anderson, but lasted into the seventh inning without allowing a run while striking out 12. It was Ray’s third straight start with at least 10 Ks, but Brewers manager Craig Counsell didn’t let that fact distract him from his own team’s great starting pitching.

“The thing was as advertised,” Counsell said. “The two guys threw the ball very well. [Anderson] was really good. They had a few good at-bats off him in the first inning. He pitched out of a few tough situations. Made a good pitch and struck out [Jake] Lamb, who’s a really good hitter, in the sixth. I was really proud of him. It was another excellent start for Chase.”

The floodgates opened once Anderson exited the game, as the Diamondbacks hit three home runs in the seventh inning and another in the eighth to put the game out of reach.

Outfielder Keon Broxton accounted for the only Brewers offense, a solo home run in the ninth inning. But many of the fans’ eyes were on left field as top Brewers prospect Lewis Brinson made his Major League debut. He was 0-for-2 at the plate with a strikeout and two walks.

Outfielder Brett Phillips (who debuted June 5) made an appearance as a pinch hitter, while Josh Hader saw no playing time.

Arizona’s pitching silences Milwaukee in a 3-2 win

Milwaukee had few answers for Arizona’s pitching staff Saturday night in a 3-2 loss at Chase Field.

The Brewers managed just two hits all night, though one of them was a 2-run homer from Hernan Perez, his ninth on the year. But that’s all they’d get against starter Zack Godley and a trio of relievers, including closer Fernando Rodney, who came on for his 16th save of the year in the ninth inning.

Milwaukee’s Junior Guerra didn’t pitch poorly – he went six innings, giving up three runs on five hits – but he took the loss thanks to a two-run shot from Chris Drury in the sixth inning to give the Diamondbacks a 3-2 lead. Guerra is now 1-1 on the year.

Guerra’s departure allowed for the debut of the Brewers’ top pitching prospect – Josh Hader. The big lefty walked the first batter he faced, got a pair of fly outs, issued an intentional walk and then got his first-ever Major League strikeout.

“He had a good inning,” manager Craig Counsell said afterwards. “He got the first batter jitters out of the way. After that, I thought he locked in and he pitched very well.”

Hader was the second of the Brewers top prospects to get called up, joining outfielder Brett Phillips. But that number soon became three, they were joined on Saturday but the club’s No. 1 prospect in outfielder Lewis Brinson. He got the call after the team put second baseman Jonathan Villar on the 10-day disabled list with a lower back injury. Brinson could make his debut in the series finale against Arizona on Sunday afternoon.