Bullpen committee holds on for Brewers
There was one difference, though: the Brewers held on for the win.
With Gagne yanked from the closer’s role Sunday after faltering in back-to-back outings, relievers Salomon Torres and Brian Shouse helped make Jeff Suppan’s seven solid innings stand up by holding on for a 5-3 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.
“I feel good about every reliever I’ve got down there,” Brewers manager Ned Yost said. “These guys make their money by being ready.”
Ryan Braun homered twice for the Brewers, who won for the second time in nine games.
Torres was called on to protect a 5-2 lead in the ninth. He gave up a leadoff double, but retired the next two batters before walking Cesar Izturis, who was 0-for-3.
Yost then brought in left-hander Shouse, who gave up an RBI single to pinch-hitter Yadier Molina. But he got Adam Kennedy to ground out for his first save this season and fifth of his career.
Shouse doesn’t expect to be called on to close too frequently in a Brewers’ bullpen that includes Guillermo Mota and David Riske, who allowed a homer in the eighth to Ryan Ludwick that made it 4-2.
“I’m just down there waiting for the phone to ring,” Shouse said. “I’m not going to get most of those things. It’s going to be Mota, Torres and Riske. I’m not going to be too much of a part of that, I wouldn’t think.”
The relievers preserved the victory for Suppan (2-2), who became the first Milwaukee starter other than Ben Sheets to win a game since Manny Parra beat San Francisco on April 5. Suppan worked himself into and out of trouble all afternoon, allowing a run on seven hits with four walks in seven innings of work.
But thanks to four strikeouts and four base-running gaffes by the Cardinals, he was able to prevent the big inning that has plagued the rotation for much of the season.
Albert Pujols walked twice and singled to extend his streak of reaching base safely in every game this season to 39.
But the Cardinals’ slugger ran into three of St. Louis’ four outs on the base paths when he was picked off in the first, caught trying to advance to third on a single by Chris Duncan in the third and doubled off second on a line drive out in the sixth.
“He’s an aggressive base runner and sometimes that happens. Fortunately, we were able to capitalize on mistakes like that,” Suppan said of his former teammate.
“It wasn’t a crisp game from the Cardinals’ side,” said St. Louis manager Tony La Russa.
The Brewers scored twice off St. Louis starter Braden Looper (5-2) in the first inning on a sacrifice fly by Prince Fielder and Corey Hart’s double.
Braun homered in the third and fifth innings to give Milwaukee a 4-1 lead, while J.J. Hardy went 3-for-4 with two triples and an RBI.
“I’ve been swinging the bat great lately,” Braun said. “It’s nice to contribute, and even better that it came in a win—a big one.”
Looper allowed four runs on seven hits and one walk in six innings, but was disappointed with his pitches to Braun.
“I left two balls up to him and he essentially did what you’re supposed to do with them,” Looper said. “He made me pay.”
Ludwick struck out three times for St. Louis before hitting his solo homer that made it 4-2. The Brewers added a run in the eighth when Hardy doubled home Bill Hall.