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Brewers outslug Cardinals in 12 innings

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McClatchy-Tribune
April 23, 2008
— Had the Milwaukee Brewers lost their game Tuesday afternoon at Miller Park against the St. Louis Cardinals, it would have been a complete travesty.

As it was, it was only half a travesty. Or perhaps three-fourths.


Winning supposedly cures all ills but that was the only thing the weary Brewers had going for them after outlasting the Cardinals, 9-8, on Gabe Kapler’s one-out, run-scoring single in the bottom of the 12th inning.


How can you have 14 pitchers on your roster and now be thin in pitching? That’s the absurd position the Brewers find themselves in after playing extra innings for the fourth time in five days.


After running through seven relievers to cover the final seven innings, manager Ned Yost admitted that he had no idea what might happen tonight if starter Dave Bush can’t contain the powerful Philadelphia Phillies.


Perhaps a 15th pitcher will be summoned?


“I don’t think we’ll see that,” Yost said. “But I turned to (coach) Dale (Sveum) in the 12th and told him I was glad I had 14.”


Much of the madness could have been averted had Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks turned a routine double play in the ninth inning that would have ended the game. Weeks has made quantum leaps on defense since arriving in the big leagues in 2005 but making poor throws on double-play relays remains his Achilles’ heel.


“That’s just something we’ve got to continue to work on,” Yost said. “We know what we are. It’s not only Rickie. It’s all of us. We know at times we have defensive shortcomings we are working hard to overcome.”


Pitching for the fifth time in six days—he got up in the pen Monday night but wasn’t summoned—closer Eric Gagne didn’t help himself by drilling the first batter, Cesar Izturis, a .186 hitter. Skip Schumaker followed with a single, putting runners on the corners.


After striking out Rick Ankiel on a changeup, Gagne induced the most dangerous hitter in the league, Albert Pujols, to bounce into what should have been a game-ending 5-4-3 double play. But Weeks flipped a low throw to first baseman Prince Fielder, who couldn’t dig it out, allowing Izturis to score the tying run.


“I just had a bad throw,” said Weeks, who wasn’t charged with his second error of the game because scorers can’t assume a double play. “You’ve got to work on all phases of your game. You’ve got to work on everything.”


Fair or not, Gagne was charged with his fourth blown save of the season in 10 chances.


“Gagne threw the ball good,” Yost said. “We didn’t turn a double play for him. That game should have been over.”


Instead, it just got nuttier. Izturis suffered a bruised arm when plunked and had to leave the game, forcing Pujols to move from first base to second for the first time during a regular-season game. (The Brewers never hit a ball to him.)


The only position player who didn’t see action was reserve catcher Mike Rivera, a member of the Brewers’ massive three-man bench. A total of 13 relief pitchers was used, and three pitchers were called on to pinch-hit.


The game dragged on so long that the Brewers snapped out of a team offensive slump (eight runs in the first six innings) and lapsed into another (no runs from the seventh through 11th innings). The racing sausages even ran twice, never a good sign.


The Brewers were so excited to win the game that they traded the player who scored the decisive run, Gabe Gross. OK, that deal already had been worked out, but you get the picture.


An overhauled bullpen has started to show cracks from the recent heavy workload, which starter Manny Parra didn’t help by going only five innings. David Riske was tagged for three runs in two-thirds of an inning, Brian Shouse allowed three inherited runners to score and Salomon Torres walked in a run during the Cardinals’ four-run seventh inning.


“Whether it’s the third (inning), ninth or 12th, you’ve still got to go in and get three guys out,” said Seth McClung, who received the victory by pitching the final inning. “With 14 guys out there, we’ve got a pretty good flag football team.”


In danger of losing a third consecutive late-inning heartbreaker, the Brewers pulled out the game when Gross drew a one-out walk off Cardinals closer Jason Isringhausen, stole second base and scored on a single up the middle by Kapler.


“That was an important win for us,” said Kapler, who smacked a hanging curveball for the winning RBI. “We don’t allow anything negative to carry over. We do a pretty good job of clearing our plates.”



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