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Bourn frustrates Brewers

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McClatchy Tribune
August 10, 2009
— The Milwaukee Brewers checked the box score after their game Sunday afternoon against Houston to make sure there was only one Michael Bourn playing center field for the Astros.

“He’s unbelievable,” said Bill Hall, one of three Brewers robbed of extra-base hits by the speedy Bourn. “I guess it’s good to be fast when you have a big yard in center field here.”


With Bourn frustrating the Brewers with his catches and left-hander Wandy Rodriguez continuing his outstanding season with seven shutout innings, the Astros held on for a 2-0 victory at Minute Maid Park.


It was a frustrating afternoon in many ways for the Brewers, who were shut out with ace Yovani Gallardo on the mound for the fourth time this season. The Brewers collected seven hits, three walks and two hit batsmen yet went 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position and left 12 runners on base.


Instead of coming home one game above .500 with a winning road trip and two consecutive winning series, the Brewers headed for the airport with a 55-56 record, shaking their heads.


“It would have made for a really nice trip,” said manager Ken Macha, who was given another piece for his bullpen when David Weathers was acquired from Cincinnati.


“The next two weeks are going to determine where we are. San Diego is playing well. Washington is playing well. Houston is getting all of its people back (from the disabled list). The next two weeks will tell the tale.”


Gallardo was nearly as brilliant as Rodriguez, getting hurt on only one pitch. He didn’t get a fastball inside enough on Geoff Blum in the fourth inning and Blum turned on it for a two-run homer that accounted for the only runs of the game.


“It’s tough,” said Gallardo (10-9), who bounced back nicely from an awful outing (nine runs in 5 1/3 innings) in Los Angeles to allow only six hits in seven innings.


“I’ve been losing a lot of close games. Hopefully, that will turn around. I threw the ball very well today, compared to my last start against the Dodgers.


“I tried to go up and in on Blum, and he turned on it. It was down a little in that zone that left-handed hitters like. I feel like that was the only pitch they put a good swing on.”


Rodriguez (11-6, 2.51 ERA), who posted his sixth consecutive victory, was supported by a handful of outstanding defensive plays. The first came in the second inning and prevented what could have been a big inning for the Brewers.


With two down, J.J. Hardy struck out but reached first on a wild pitch by Rodriguez. Jason Kendall then was hit by a pitch, and Gallardo drew a four-pitch walk to load the bases.


Felipe Lopez sent a shot down the third-base line, but Blum speared it with a backhand stab and threw to first, robbing Lopez of at least a two-run double.


Bourn took over from there. With one down in the second, he raced into deep left-center to rob Hall. In the fifth, he ranged into the other gap to haul in Lopez’s drive.


After Prince Fielder singled with one out in the eighth, Bourn stymied the Brewers one more time, going back to the base of “Tal’s Hill” in center to chase down a blast by Casey McGehee.


“We hit a lot of balls that could have been doubles or even homers in other parks,” said Hall. “(Bourn) definitely helped win the game.”


Pinch-hitter Frank Catalanotto drew a walk after Bourn robbed McGehee, and Macha sent Craig Counsell to bat for Hardy. Houston manager Cecil Cooper countered with closer Jose Valverde, who induced Counsell to pop out.


The game was frustrating to the very end for the Brewers, thanks to a couple of strike-three calls by umpire Larry Vanover. Kendall was hit again to open the ninth and pinch-hitter Jody Gerut singled to center.


Lopez put a good at-bat on Valverde but flied out to left on the ninth pitch. Mike Cameron also battled Valverde before taking a called strike three on the eighth pitch. Ryan Braun then struck out looking on three pitches to end the game.


Cameron and Braun both complained to Vanover about his calls. The third strike to Cameron might have caught the outside corner at the knees but Valverde’s last pitch to Braun clearly was off the plate.


“I didn’t see the pitches,” said Macha. “You’d like to see (the umpire) make him put it in the strike zone. We were fighting all the way.”



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