Sheets Will Dip Into Free Agency Waters

Righty Ben Sheets is looking forward to testing the free-agent market, while Milwaukee is smartly waiting to see if he remains healthy the rest of the season.

Inside pitch

Brewers ace Ben Sheets has every expectation of testing the free agent market this winter.

"That's the direction I'm headed right now," Sheets said. "You can't invite yourself back."

Sheets referred to the club's decision not to try to negotiate a new deal before or during the 2008 season. General manager Doug Melvin has said on more than one occasion that he preferred not to address Sheets' contract status until after the season.

That decision was based in large part on the series of injuries Sheets suffered during the first three years of the four-year, $38.5 million deal he signed prior to the 2005 season. Melvin figured it was in the best interests of all involved to see how Sheets fared this season before broaching a new deal.

Sheets is having the kind of year every free agent-to-be yearns for. After tossing a complete-game four-hitter Monday night against Atlanta, he is 9-1 with a 2.59 ERA through 15 starts, with a league-best three complete games.

Now, even if the Brewers came calling with a new offer, Sheets admitted he probably wouldn't listen.

"In all honesty, that would be pretty tough (not to test the market)," he said. "We're getting pretty deep (into the season). It would be hard not to (test the market), especially when you start putting together a (big) year."

Braves 4, Brewers 2

Too much Jorge Campillo. Too much on the mound. Too much at the plate. That was the story for the Brewers on Wednesday, who managed only four hits and two runs off Campillo in seven innings, then watched him contribute big singles in two two-run rallies that decided the game.

Jeff Suppan battled but was stung twice by Kelly Johnson, who doubled home two runs in the third and singled in another in the fifth. The loss prevented the Brewers from pulling off their first sweep ever in Atlanta and snapped their four-game winning streak.

Notes and quotes

--Catcher Mike Rivera made his first start in 13 days. Regular Jason Kendall had started 11 games in a row and led all NL catchers with 69 games started.

--The Brewers did not hit a home run Tuesday night in their 4-3 victory over Atlanta, snapping a season-high string of nine consecutive games in which they slugged at least one. Over that span, they accumulated 20 homers.

--Craig Counsell started Wednesday in place of shortstop J.J. Hardy, who had put together an eight-game hitting streak since coming back from a sore left shoulder.

--Second baseman Rickie Weeks, who came off the disabled list Sunday after recovering from a sprained knee, had one of his best series of the season in Atlanta, going 5-for-12 with two RBIs.

--First baseman Prince Fielder, who batted .382 with five home runs and eight RBIs on the Brewers' last home stand, was 0-for-12 in the three-game series in Atlanta that started a 10-game road trip.

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