In a span of five days, the Brewers went from tied with Chicago for the NL Central lead to five games back. That's a tough five days.
After losing to Houston on Sunday and falling one game behind the Cubs, the Brewers were swept by Chicago in a four-game series at Miller Park to drop five back. After going 7-0 on a trip to begin the second half, they came home and went 1-6 to give most of it back.
Despite that woeful week, manager Ned Yost said it's no time to panic.
"Perspective comes into play," Yost said. "We've still got two months to play."
The Cubs also refused to throw dirt on the Brewers, perhaps because they still have six games to play against them this season.
"I don't think anybody's going to go away," Chicago manager Lou Piniella said. "There's two months to play. The secret for all teams is to stay healthy and keep going. It's July 31st. We've got baseball to be played in August and September. But, certainly, coming in here and beating a good opponent in their ballpark four times is something to feel good about."
Cubs 11, Brewers 4
Just call it the Massacre in Milwaukee. The Brewers had such high hopes at the start of their four-game series against the Cubs. Instead, they lost all four games and were outscored 31-11.
Dave Bush, who has been prone to surrendering home runs (20 for the season), allowed three big ones--including a grand slam by Jim Edmonds, who also homered in his first at-bat. The Brewers' starting pitchers went 0-3 with a 7.03 ERA in the series, compared with 3-0 and 1.61 for the Cubs' starters.
Right fielder Corey Hart was out of the starting lineup and Yost said he might give Hart a few days off. Hart was 2-for-12 in the first three games of the four-game series against Chicago and went 0-for-4 on Wednesday night with three strikeouts.
--Catcher Jason Kendall went 1-for-14 against Chicago and finished July with a .169 batting average for the month.
--After going 7-0 on their trip to San Francisco and St. Louis after the All-Star break, the Brewers came home and went 1-6 against Houston (1-2) and Chicago (0-4).
--First baseman Prince Fielder was ejected in the ninth inning by plate umpire Doug Eddings after flying out to left field. Fielder wasn't happy about ball-strike calls during the at-bat and let Eddings know it, earning the thumb.
For one night, all was good at the home of the Braves.
Atlanta trotted out the oft-injured Mike Hampton for the second time since the 2005 campaign, and the 35-year-old managed to stay healthy and returned to his old form with the bat--even if the results weren't quite there yet on the mound.
Hampton, who has given even the most learned doctors a refresher course in human anatomy with his myriad injuries over the past three years, allowed four runs and seven hits in an 81-pitch, five-inning performance Thursday.
Though he wasn't quite satisfied with the results, the southpaw--who jokingly said he is Super-glued together--realized that his latest performance was a positive step.
"The competitive side of you wants to win right away," Hampton said. "But it's something to build on."
Braves manager Bobby Cox agreed.
"Hampton, I'm sure, is not thrilled with what he did on the mound," Cox said. "But for the second outing in three years, it's not bad at all."
One thing Hampton can still do is hit. He doubled and drove in two runs to help his team snap a five-game slide.
"He hasn't pitched in three years," said batterymate Clint Sammons, who smashed his first major league homer. "It's good to get five innings from him. It's nice to have him in the lineup, too."
Braves 9, Cardinals 4
Sammons drove in three runs, and Omar Infante homered and drove in two runs for the Braves, who avoided being swept for the first time in a four-game set by the Cardinals in Atlanta.
--Sammons smashed his first major league homer in the sixth inning. The 25-year-old, who played ball with right fielder Jeff Francoeur at Parkview High School in suburban Atlanta, also had three hits and drove in his first ML run in the fourth. "It's something you'll remember forever," Sammons said of the homer. "I think that's the best ball I've hit all year."
--Regular catcher Brian McCann took batting practice and participated in drills Thursday. The All-Star backstop, who suffered a concussion in a helmet-to-helmet collision with Philadelphia's Shane Victorino on Sunday, said he felt fine after the workout. McCann may be cleared to pinch-hit Saturday and could see action behind the plate when the Braves open a three-game set in San Francisco on Monday.
--Jeff Bennett hurled two scoreless frames to record the win before giving way to right-hander Rafael Soriano and lefty Mike Gonzalez. After getting battered for 30 runs over their last 22 innings in the Braves' five-game losing streak, the bullpen settled down Thursday, hurling four scoreless innings.
--The Braves avoided getting swept in a four-game set by St. Louis for the first time since August 14-16, 1989. It would have been the first time the Braves dropped a four-game set to the Cardinals in Atlanta. The last time the Braves franchise was swept by the Cardinals in a four-game series at home was June 17-20, 1946, when the club played in Boston.
--Infante homered, had three hits and drove in two runs in the contest. The utility man, who is filling in at third base for the injured Chipper Jones, finished the four-game series against St. Louis batting .533 (8-for-15).
By the numbers
.172- The Braves' team batting average in their losses, through 100 games.
Righty Tim Hudson (sore right elbow) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 24. He saw Dr. James Andrews on July 30 and discovered that he needs Tommy John surgery, although he will wait a week to see if swelling goes down.
Lefty Tom Glavine (flexor tendon tear in left elbow) went on the 15-day disabled list June 11. He started strengthening and range-of-motion exercises in late June. He played catch July 8 for the first time since suffering the injury, and he threw bullpen sessions July 22, 25 and 27. He threw a simulated game Wednesday and could begin a rehab assignment Monday.
Third baseman Chipper Jones (strained left hamstring) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 24.
Left fielder Matt Diaz (strained posterior cruciate ligament in left knee) went on the 15-day disabled list May 28. He began a rehab assignment with Class AA Mississippi on July 4, but he had a setback in late July and was shut down.