Baseball / Sports

Brewers chew up Wolf to top Marlins, claim series

MIAMI -- Before the conclusion of the fourth inning Sunday, Ryan Braun was three-quarters of the way toward hitting for the cycle. About the only suspense from that point was whether he would get.

A small consolation for the Miami Marlins in the 7-1 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers was making sure Todd Helton remained the only player on that list. The University of Miami product, Braun added an infield single and struck out in his final two at-bats.

Braun and the rest of the Brewers' batsmen made quick work of veteran lefty Randy Wolf. They scored six times over the first three innings on their way to the series-clinching victory at Marlins Park.

The Marlins, who concluded a 3-3 homestand, were vying to win their seventh of eight home series. At 20-8, their home record remains the majors' best. The Nationals -- their Memorial Day opponent -- and Brewers have accounted for four of the eight Marlins Park losses.

Making his first big league start since Sept. 22, 2012, Wolf nine pitches into the game had allowed a pair of doubles and a Carlos Gomez single. Already up 2-0, the Brewers added a third run in the first when a Christian Yelich error on a Rickie Weeks base hit allowed Gomez to score from second.

"Especially early on everything was up and a few times I painted myself in a corner with the counts I was in," Wolf said. "When you get in those kinds of situations you have to make really good pitches."

Added Marlins manager Mike Redmond, who was noncommittal about whether Wolf would remain in the rotation: "We're trying to figure out what's going to be the best, if it's bringing a younger guy and letting him pitch or continue to stay with Wolfie and see if he can eat up some of those innings. That's something we have to talk about and figure out going forward."

Wolf, who missed all of 2013 recovering from his second Tommy John surgery, finished the outing considerably stronger that he started it. Beginning with a Jimmy Nelson double play in the third, Wolf sat down seven of the last eight batters he faced.

"Things got better as the game went on," Wolf said. "I know I just need to get ahead of guys, throw strikes and execute pitches. It would be a lot different if I was throwing the ball exactly where I wanted to and it was the same result. That's when I know I'd be in trouble."

Almost 13 years Wolf's junior, Nelson, 24, got the spot start in place of Yovani Gallardo (sprained ankle). He blanked the Marlins on five hits with three walks and six strikeouts over 52/3 innings. The top fifth of the Marlins' batting order was a combined 0-for-13 with two walks and five strikeouts against him. Two of the five singles he allowed did not leave the infield.

The Marlins after hitting four homers and scoring five times through seven innings Friday plated three over their final 20 innings, the last coming on Marcell Ozuna's ninth homer, a solo shot off Francisco Rodriguez to start the ninth.

Including 0-for-7 Sunday, they went 2-for-20 (.100) off Brewers' pitching with runners in scoring position.

Meanwhile, the Brewers logged double-digit hit totals in each of the three games for a .330 batting average (38-for-115). Almost half (18) of those hits, including five from Braun and Jonathan Lucroy on Sunday, went for extra bases.

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