Stetter Odd Man Out Upon Suppan's Return

Brian Shouse only southpaw in Milwaukee pen. Meanwhile, Bill Hall and J.J. Hardy continue torrid hitting to increase Brewers' winning streak to six.

Inside pitch

Some Brewers fans wondered if reliever Guillermo Mota would be shown the door when starter Jeff Suppan came off the 15-day disabled list Tuesday. Instead, Mota survived a possible ax and the Brewers took the easy way out, optioning left-handed reliever Mitch Stetter to Class AAA Nashville. Stetter, for one, wasn't surprised.

"I saw the writing on the wall," he said. "You know in the back of your mind, it could be you."

This is the second time this season Stetter has been optioned to Nashville. The first time, he lost his control, started walking hitters and practically forced the move. This time, Stetter was much better, going 1-0 with a 1.74 ERA. But the numbers worked against him, as did the fact that he had a remaining minor league option.

For now, Brian Shouse will hold the fort as the only left-hander in the bullpen.

"There weren't a lot of things we could do," manager Ned Yost said. "Of course, it changes things, but it's not anything that's unmanageable. You take what you've got and you go."

Stetter stayed with the team Tuesday but headed for Nashville today.

"They told me to stay ready, and I would be back in September, if not sooner," he said.

Brewers 4, Cardinals 3

Third baseman Bill Hall is showing why he no longer is in a platoon with Russell Branyan. Hall had been playing vs. left-handers and Branyan vs. right-handers, but Hall has been so hot in July that Yost abandoned that platoon.

Hall snapped a 3-all tie for the second consecutive night to take care of the Cardinals. The previous night, Hall homered to lead off the 10th in a 6-3 victory. This time, he homered in the ninth.

Jeff Suppan, in his first game off the disabled list, allowed two runs in the first inning and another run in the third but stopped it there in a gritty seven-inning outing.

Notes and quotes

--Right-hander Salomon Torres, who blew a save Monday night, bounced back to record his 18th save Tuesday against St. Louis. Since becoming the closer in late May, Torres has converted 17 of 19 save opportunities.

--Infielder Steve Braun, the younger brother of Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun, signed as a free agent and will report to the rookie club in Helena, Mont. The younger Braun was not selected in the June draft after completing his career at the University of Maryland.

--Outfielder Jay Gibbons signed a minor league deal and was assigned to Class AA Huntsville. Gibbons, 31, was released by Baltimore in March after playing seven seasons with the Orioles, and he had been playing independent ball with the Long Island Ducks. The Brewers will evaluate Gibbons to see if he might help the club as a September call-up.

--Shortstop J.J. Hardy has been swinging a hot bat coming out of the All-Star break. He had 10 hits in 23 at-bats in three games in San Francisco and the first two games in St. Louis, raising his average from .283 to .294.

St. Louis Cardinals

Inside pitch

Although the Cardinals bullpen lost for the 22nd time Tuesday night, manager Tony La Russa is tired of having the relievers take most of the blame.

"You think the bullpen lost this game?" he said. "You think they lost the game? It's not the bullpen. Usually, I say it's a team loss. But it's on the offense. We need to score more runs."

The Cardinals roughed up former Cardinal right-hander Suppan for three runs in the first three innings but stranded five runners as well. Then they got only two singles off Suppan in the next four frames.

Kyle McClellan was the one in the eye of the storm this time, putting a fastball in Hall's wheelhouse with two outs in the ninth inning of a tie game. Hall cracked it 414 feet.

Kyle Lohse deserved better than a no-decision, but the inefficiency of the bullpen may have caused La Russa to go a batter or two too long with him in the eighth. Lohse, who gave up just one hit through six innings, was touched for a run in the seventh. Then, having pitched eight innings just once this year, he weakened in the eighth this time, allowing two more runs.

"He pitched a game we should have won," La Russa said.

Notes and quotes

--Outfielder Chris Duncan, hitting .248 with six homers and 27 RBIs, was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a pinched nerve in his neck. "I knew he was having issues ... but it was getting progressively worse," La Russa said.

--Outfielder-first baseman Joe Mather was called up from Class AAA Memphis for the third time this season.

--Righty Adam Wainwright threw 40 pitches in the bullpen as the first step in his on-field rehab from a ruptured pulley in the middle finger of his right hand. Wainwright expects to throw every other day for a week and then be re-evaluated, but he hopes to be pitching in the majors by the second weekend in August.

--Lohse threw a season-high 110 pitches. Though he got a no-decision, Lohse hasn't lost in his last 14 starts.

--Memphis center fielder Colby Rasmus, the top prospect in the system, had to leave the Class AAA game in the first inning after suffering a knee injury while batting. He was scheduled to undergo an MRI today.

--Right fielder Ryan Ludwick's first-inning home run was estimated at 450 feet, the longest homer in the three-year history of Busch Stadium.

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