NLDS Update

The Phillies and Brewers are preparing for Game Four of their NLDS series and we've got a look at the series from both sides of the field.

Admittedly a free-swinging team reliant on home runs to score, the Brewers played "small ball" to avoid elimination and win their first postseason game in 26 years. With 11 singles and five walks, they managed to push across four runs against ancient Jamie Moyer and those who followed him. Closer Salomon Torres then escaped a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the ninth with the help of an obstruction play on Phillies base-runner Shane Victorino. That call took a run off the board, forced two runners to return to their bases and allowed Torres to escape without allowing a run. Making his first postseason start, right-hander Dave Bush went 5 1/3 innings, allowing five hits and one run.

Brew News: When the Brewers collected only seven hits and scored three runs in the first two games of the NLDS against Philadelphia, there were cries for interim manager Dale Sveum to change his lineup.

Sveum refused to do so.

"It's not like we have three guys swinging really good and three guys medium and a couple of guys really bad," said Sveum.

"Nobody has a really got a hot hand right now at anything. So, to move them here and there, at least when they go to bed tonight, they'll know the lineup. They know where they'll be, and that's comfortable in its own way sometimes." So, keeping that lineup intact, the Brewers went out and won Game 3 Saturday, collecting 11 hits and five walks. They should have scored way more than four runs but, hey, you've got to start somewhere.

"I think where you put guys right now in the lineup is irrelevant to what we've got going on," said Sveum. "All you're doing is wishing something will turn around. I don't think moving somebody in the lineup has got anything to do with it.

"I played a long time. If I were struggling, moving me somewhere else didn't make me a better hitter. That's never made sense that way. You've got to remember, after your first inning, besides (Mike) Cameron leading off and Billy (Hall) hitting second and 'Braunie' (Ryan Braun) hitting third, everybody is in a different spot anyway." Cameron, who was 0-for-7 in the first two games, got on base in each of his first four at-bats in Game 3 with two walks, a hit batsman and a single. And he did all of that after arriving back in Milwaukee only hours before the game, having returned to Atlanta on Friday for the birth of his daughter.

What you need to know about the Brewers:

  • Rickie Weeks left the game with a sprained left knee. Weeks suffered the injury trying to beat out a grounder in the second inning and played one more inning before being replaced by Craig Counsell. Weeks is listed as day-to-day.
  • The Brewers' bullpen has thrown 12 scoreless innings in the first three games of the NLDS against Philadelphia. RHP Carlos Villanueva has tossed 3 2/3 hitless innings in two appearances.
  • Mitch Stetter, a September call-up added to the roster in place on injured RHP David Riske, has appeared in all three games of the series. Stetter has pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings with two strikeouts.
  • Prince Fielder delivered a first-inning sacrifice fly in Game 3 but is still hitless in the NLDS, going 0-for-10 with five strikeouts.
  • Carlos Villanueva collected the first hit ever by a Brewers pitcher in postseason play with a sixth-inning single off Phillies Chad Durbin.
  • Philly Forecast: While his teammates focused Saturday on trying to sweep the Brewers and bring a premature close to the best-of-five National League Division Series, Joe Blanton already was thinking about starting Game 4 Sunday at Miller Park.

    Good thing, too.

    Now that the Phillies have lost Game 3, it is Blanton, the burly right-hander acquired in July from the Oakland Athletics, who will be charged with making certain they avoid having to face Brewers ace CC Sabathia in a decisive Game 5 Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park.

    "I've been mentally prepared the whole time," Blanton said after the Phillies' 4-1 loss Saturday night at Miller Park. "I just feel like the only way you could look at it is there was going to be a game. I felt like if I looked at it any other way, I wouldn't be physically or mentally ready. So I went through the whole process to get ready for this game."

    But the process was different than usual.

    Blanton hasn't pitched since September 26, when he allowed four runs (one earned) in six innings against the Nationals. In the six days that followed, he threw three bullpen sessions, and during Friday's workout at Miller Park, he took batting practice with Game 3 starter Jamie Moyer. In 13 starts for the Phillies, Blanton went 4-0 with a 4.20 ERA. He pitched through shoulder tendinitis in late August, discomfort that affected his control and prevented him from logging as many innings as usual. But he went 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA in his last three starts. Blanton also has become fast friends with high-strung right-hander Brett Myers.

    "Myers, of all people, has kind of taken him under his wing," shortstop Jimmy Rollins said. "He sits right in front of him on the airplane. They're always talking. Sometimes, Blanton looks over at us like, does this guy ever stop? But he doesn't move, so he must like it."

    Said Blanton, "He's been in Philly for five or six years. He was awesome when I came over. I guess we kind of had similar years at the All-Star break. We both struggled, so we both knew what that felt like."

    What you need to know about the Phillies:

  • Jamie Moyer - at 45, the majors' oldest player and the second-oldest pitcher to start a postseason game - was in trouble from the start in Game 3. He walked Mike Cameron and Bill Hall to open the first inning and threw a first-pitch ball to the Brewers' first six batters. Cameron scored on Prince Fielder's sacrifice fly, and J.J. Hardy's single through the left side of the infield gave the Brewers a 2-0 edge, their first multi-run lead of the series. "I gave them a little momentum," Moyer said. "They get a 1-2-3 first against us, and they're kind of building off that. You'd like to go out and match that in the first inning, kind of nullify everything."
  • Shane Victorino was the center of a controversial call in the ninth inning. With the bases loaded, Pedro Feliz bounced into a double play. But when Victorino opted not to slide into second, he was called for interference, negating a run. "I've seen times where they probably didn't call that, but the umpire is standing right there on it," manager Charlie Manuel said. "Vic went to take him out, and evidently, the guy thought he went too far out of the baseline, and he was too aggressive with him or something."
  • Pat Burrell, who strained his lower back before Game 1 of the NL Division Series, is 0-for-8 in the series' first three games. Burrell, Ryan Howard (2-for-8) and Chase Utley (2-for-12) - the middle of the Phillies' lineup - are a combined 4-for-28 with three RBI. "In situations like this, things get magnified," Burrell said. "The truth is, we won the first two games and there wasn't a whole lot of production from the middle [of the lineup]. To me, that's a good thing. That means it's coming."

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