Brewers Strong Early, Fizzle Late

Defensive gems help save Milwaukee's big lead against Randy Johnson and D-Backs.

Inside pitch

The Brewers scored a run off a relief pitcher Tuesday night, which normally isn't major news. But they hadn't scored off a reliever since June 22, part of a recent trend in which they have scored runs early and then shut down.

That trend never was more evident than in the first seven games of the current three-city trip, during which they went 3-4. In those seven games, the Brewers scored 18 of their 24 runs during the first three innings.

The Brewers scored no runs after the sixth inning in any of those games. In fact, they scored just one run after the fifth inning--and that came without a hit in the sixth inning Monday against Arizona on a hit batsman and three walks.

Though that run was forced in by reliever Chad Qualls' bases-loaded walk, it was charged to Arizona starter Doug Davis. The Brewers had not scored a run off a relief pitcher since the seventh inning on June 22 against Baltimore, a span of 22.1 innings.

That streak came to an end Tuesday when the Brewers scored a seventh-inning run off Arizona reliever Connor Robertson.

"I think that's more coincidence than anything else," manager Ned Yost said. "It's not like we get together and say, ‘Let's only score off starting pitchers.' "

That trend goes back much further than this trip, however. Last season, when the Brewers lost 15 games in which they led by at least three runs, part of the problem was the inability to produce tack-on runs.

"It has no explanation, and, really, not much bearing on anything, as far as I'm concerned," Yost said. "I'm saying it's not a big deal. It goes in cycles. Everything goes in cycles. This just happens to be the flavor of the week. That doesn't bother me."

Brewers 8, D-Backs 6

On a night in which they scored eight runs, the Brewers probably won the game on defense. Third baseman Bill Hall made a couple of sensational plays, and substitute first sacker Mike Rivera might have saved the game with an unassisted double play in the eighth. Shortstop J.J. Hardy, always a solid defender, did his work at the plate with two homers off Randy Johnson. The Brewers broke out to a 7-1 lead, but starter Jeff Suppan had another shaky outing--five innings, nine hits, five runs--to allow the Diamondbacks to crawl back in the game. That's why the defense became so important before the night was done.

Notes and quotes

--Second baseman Rickie Weeks missed the game in Arizona with a stomach virus. Weeks became so dehydrated he had to be given fluids intravenously.

--First baseman Prince Fielder, in a 2-for-27 slump on the Brewers' three-city trip, was given his first game off since May 8 in Florida.

--Rivera made his first start at first base in the major leagues since 2003 with San Diego. Rivera went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and also might have saved the game with an unassisted double play in the eighth. Rivera made a diving catch of a liner by Arizona catcher Miguel Montero and tagged the bag to double off the runner, allowing the Brewers to keep their 8-6 lead.

--Hardy has a season-high 13-game hitting streak, during which he is batting .377 (20-for-53) with eight doubles, four homers and 12 RBIs.

--Salomon Torres converted his 13th save in 13 chances since taking over as closer for then-injured Eric Gagne in late May.


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