Baseball / Sports

Good trip goes bad for Brewers

CINCINNATI -- The Milwaukee Brewers opened their now-completed seven-game trip with a couple of inspiring extra-innings victories.

They closed it with one Sunday that was about as deflating as it gets.

Managing just six hits in all, the Brewers surrendered the lead in the eighth and couldn't score a runner from second base with no outs in the top of 10th. Then Tyler Thornburg issued a two-out walk in the bottom half only to see Todd Frazier double him home to cap a 4-3 Cincinnati Reds victory at Great American Ball Park.

As a result, the Brewers head back to Milwaukee with a 3-4 record on a trip that began well in St. Louis only to fizzle badly against a suddenly resurgent Cincinnati team that did most of the small things right in winning the four-game series, 3-1.

"This would have been an important game to win," acknowledged Brewers manager Ron Roenicke, whose team still sports the best record in the major leagues at 21-11.

"Now it's a bad road trip. You win it, and it turns into a good road trip. You wouldn't think one game would do that, but it does."

While the spotlight shone brightly on the failures of the bullpen late -- Brandon Kintzler allowing a game-tying home run to Brandon Phillips in the eighth and then Thornburg's mistakes in the 10th -- Milwaukee's offense was clearly at fault in this one.

Facing starter Alfredo Simon and three relievers the Brewers scattered those six hits and went 1 for 5 with runners in scoring position over 10 innings. In the final two games of the series, they scored four of their five runs on solo home runs.

All told, the Brewers managed just 24 hits and 10 runs in the series. And who knows what would have happened Friday had starting pitcher Wily Peralta not doubled in both runs in the fifth inning of a 2-0 victory?

"We've got to do a better job of battling," Roenicke said. "If it makes sense to shuffle (the lineup), we'll shuffle. But I just don't see where there's pieces to change that. So we have to do a better job.

"We get opportunities and we're not getting the job done right now."

The game turned in the bottom of the eighth inning for the Brewers, who held a tenuous 3-2 lead.

After the left-handed Will Smith retired Joey Votto on a groundout to start, Phillips -- who already had doubled and walked -- came to the plate. Roenicke went with setup man Kintzler.

Smith had finished the sixth for starter Kyle Lohse by recording the final two outs, and has had success this season against right-handed hitters.

In addition to getting the righty-righty matchup, Phillips was only 1 for 7 in his career against Kintzler. But on Kintzler's second offering, Phillips blasted a long solo home run to center to knot the score at 3-3.

"Smith has done his job, and you don't ever want to go too far with him," Roenicke said when asked about the switch. "It was set up the right way, we didn't execute and they did a nice job. When they needed big hits, they got big hits."

Kintzler kept the damage to the one run, but after the Brewers went down in order in the top of the ninth -- for the fifth consecutive inning -- he came back out and was greeted by a Ryan Ludwick single to left.

Tucker Barnhart bunted him up to second and Zack Cozart followed with a walk. The Reds pinch-hit with Ramon Santiago, who moved the runners up with a bounce-out to first.

Former Red Zach Duke replaced Kintzler and struck out Skip Schumaker on three pitches to send the Brewers into extra innings for the third time on their trip and fifth time overall.

Khris Davis opened the 10th with a double off the wall against Sam LeCure, but pinch hitter Jeff Bianchi popped out to the catcher trying to bunt him over to third.

"We haven't been very good at it this year," Roenicke said, referring to bunting.

Jean Segura flied out to right and Logan Schafer walked. Davis and Schafer moved up on a wild pitch by LeCure, but Carlos Gomez struck out on three straight pitches after that initial ball to scuttle the rally.

Thornburg came on to get the first two outs in the 10th -- the dangerous Votto and Phillips -- before walking Chris Heisey, a late sub for original cleanup hitter Jay Bruce, on four straight fastballs.

He then fell behind Frazier, 2-0, before throwing a fastball that was belted into the left-field corner. Frazier wound up with a double and Heisey slid into home plate well ahead of the relay throw for the Brewers' first walk-off loss.

"I had to throw him a strike, had to come to him," Thornburg said. "It's just unfortunate that I walk a guy and give up a hit and the guy scores from first. It sucks, but there's not much I can do about it."

The Brewers jumped out to a 1-0 lead two batters in against Simon on a Scooter Gennett homer to right.

Gomez jump-started a rally in the third with a double to left-center. Gennett moved him to third with a groundout to second and Jonathan Lucroy singled to center with two outs to up the Brewers' lead to 2-0.

Cincinnati got the run back quickly when Brayan Pena, swinging on the first pitch, homered to right off Lohse to make it 2-1.

Davis homered to right-center off Simon to lead off the fourth, extending Milwaukee's lead back to two runs, but Cincinnati answered in the bottom half when Phillips doubled, moved up to third on a groundout and scored on a fly ball to right by Heisey.

Lohse, meanwhile, gave the Brewers another quality start despite admittedly not having his best stuff. In 61/3 innings (97 pitches), he allowed eight hits and a walk while striking out two.

The Brewers now head home for a nine-game, 11-day stay that opens with 11-23 Arizona, knowing they very well could be doing so on the heels of a third consecutive winning trip had they executed better.

"We're not happy about it, obviously, but tomorrow's a new day," said Lohse. "Kind of stinks the way it happened, but tomorrow it's back at it."

(c)2014 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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