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Brewers shake off the doldrums--at least for a night

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McClatchy-Tribune
May 21, 2008
— Lately it has seemed that whenever the Milwaukee Brewers had one necessity for a victory, the other went missing.

If they had solid pitching, the offense was anemic.


If the bats woke up, the pitching would fall into a slumber that would make Rip Van Winkle seem like a spokesman for Red Bull.


Things just hadn’t clicked at the same time for any extended period, which had led to nine straight road losses and five consecutive losses overall.


But that’s what the Pittsburgh Pirates are for in the National League.


Even though the Brewers’ record was more than 20 games below .500 at PNC Park, they got an overdose of hits mixed with some strong starting pitching from Manny Parra and mostly shutdown relief to cruise to a 7-2 victory Tuesday night against the Pirates, a team trying not to share the National League Central cellar with Milwaukee.


The Brewers had been on edge, with a star player—Ryan Braun—calling out their approach after being swept in Boston, another star player—Prince Fielder—doing his best to duck questions about the team’s struggles and a manager—Ned Yost—understandably snapping at reporters over falsely reported rumors of his demise.


This victory broke those ugly losing streaks and revived a clubhouse badly in need of something positive.


The only drawback was that closer Eric Gagne again could not get through an inning cleanly. He allowed a two-run home run, two walks and threw 26 pitches in two-thirds of an inning before Salomon Torres finished off the Pirates. Gagne left the game with stiffness in his right shoulder, which he said felt like soreness after working out, and will be evaluated today.


Besides that, it was a good night at the tail end of a bunch of terrible ones.


“It was good all the way around,” said Mike Cameron, who went 3 for 4 with a two-run homer and spoke as music blared and players joked throughout the clubhouse. “We needed that right there.


“We just needed to stop this. It was good for us to swing the bats like we’re capable of swinging them. Sometimes it can be very contagious.”


For a game, at least, it was.


The Brewers banged out 14 hits, three for extra bases, including a home run by Corey Hart and a run-scoring double by Bill Hall. That gave Parra a nice cushion, though he didn’t really need one.


In one of Parra’s most encouraging outings of the season, he threw 5 2/3 innings, allowed four hits, walked one and struck out six and didn’t allow a run.


Parra stayed aggressive and fought back when the opposition pushed him.


Freddy Sanchez started the game with an eight-pitch at-bat before flying out. Nate McClouth had a seven-pitch at-bat before popping out. Adam LaRoche had a ridiculous 13-pitch at-bat with seven foul balls before striking out swinging. And Sanchez leaned on Parra again with a 12-pitch at-bat in the third inning before grounding out.


All of that helped Parra throw 116 pitches.


“I would’ve liked to have him get us through six, but Manny is making positive strides every time he goes out,” Yost said. “There was two or three guys that had long at-bats. Those add another 30 pitches to the pitch count.”


It was surely a confidence-building outing for a team that had been unable to halt its slide.


“We knew what was going on there and sensed some urgency needing to come out and win this first game,” Parra said. “We know what’s going on as far as the losing on the road and losing five a row, and it’s important that we stop it. The way we played today says a lot.


“I’m really happy about the way it went. Not too often am I going to come out after 52/3 and be happy, but I went after them.”



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