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Red Sox sweep away Brewers

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McClatchy-Tribune
May 18, 2008
— Most of those in the quiet visiting clubhouse at Fenway Park seemed at a loss Sunday to explain the turn of events that dropped the reeling Milwaukee Brewers into sole possession of last place in the National League Central.

Ryan Braun was not one of them.


After the Brewers were swept out of town with an 11-7 loss to the Boston Red Sox, Braun called out his teammates for what he considered the wrong approach to playing the defending world champions.


“I almost felt like this series, we didn’t expect to win,” Braun said after the Brewers dropped their fifth consecutive game and ninth in a row on the road.


“We were competing; I know everybody tried hard. But it’s not about trying hard. You’ve got to expect to win. I almost feel like we never really expected to win any of these games. I just kind of had that feeling.


“It’s just a feeling. Every time we were winning, I just didn’t feel we expected to win. It was like we were just content to be there and compete. I don’t think we necessarily expected to win.”


The Brewers finally broke out of a prolonged offensive skid with a four-homer day against Boston ace Josh Beckett, including two by the white-hot Braun. But, as so often happens when a team is on the skids, the pitching fell apart and the Red Sox countered with four blasts of their own, including two by David Ortiz.


The loss dropped the Brewers into the division cellar, seven games behind the first-place Chicago Cubs. With 12 losses in 17 games this month, the Brewers already have had losing streaks of six and five games.


The Brewers had leads in both of the final two games of the interleague series but Braun didn’t get the feeling his teammates expected a positive outcome.


“Obviously, they’re a great team,” he said, referring to the Red Sox. “It’s a good gauge of where we’re at when we can go out and compete with those guys. For us, as a team, our goal can’t be to compete. Our goal has to be to win.


“Obviously, to come in here and win the series would have been extremely difficult but it’s a real disappointment to come in here and get swept. A team like (Boston), they come out every day and expect to win. You can just sense it.


“I feel like we’re there at times but we need to come with that approach every day. No matter who we’re playing against, no matter who’s throwing against us, and expect to win. . . . We’re too talented to approach the game any other way.”


Right-hander Carlos Villanueva, who has struggled all season on the road (0-4, 11.09 earned run average), had another tough day. He surrendered consecutive two-out homers to Dustin Pedroia and Ortiz in the third inning, and after J.J. Hardy’s two-run blast put the Brewers back on top in the fourth, caved again in the bottom of the inning.


It didn’t help that first baseman Prince Fielder dropped a routine throw from Hardy on what should have been the first out of the inning. But Villanueva (2-5, 6.43) didn’t help himself with a pair of walks, including one to No. 9 hitter Julio Lugo that forced in a run.


The bullpen was unable to keep the Red Sox from tacking on runs. Right-hander Mark DiFelice, making his major-league debut, surrendered a two-run homer by Ortiz before recording his initial out in the fifth. Salomon Torres was tagged for a two-run shot in the seventh by Kevin Youkilis.


The Brewers are in a losing syndrome, not hitting when they get decent pitching, not pitching when they score runs, making bad plays in the field at the worst time. Afterward, Fielder didn’t seem interested in delving into the club’s problems.


“We’ve still got to go out there and do our job,” Fielder said. “Just because we lose doesn’t mean that everything isn’t going on all cylinders. I don’t look at it that deep.


“It’s not fun to lose but it’s our job. We’ve got to do it whether it’s hard or not. Every day, just try to go out there and each one of us try to do our part to help our team win.”


To his credit, Braun was more blunt and to the point when assessing the Brewers’ situation.


“We’ve got to figure it out and figure it out in a hurry,” he said. “We’re better than that. We’re certainly talented enough to win games. But a lot of it, our approach mentally, sometimes has to improve.


“We’ve got to go to Pittsburgh and try to find a way to win the series and go to Washington and find a way to win that series. We can’t play like this for very long, as deep and talented as our division is.


“By no means is it time to panic. We just have to find a way to start playing better consistently in all facets of the game.”



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