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Parra suffers another meltdown with the Brewers

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McClatchy Tribune
August 24, 2009
— What exactly do the Milwaukee Brewers have in left-hander Manny Parra?

That was the question of the day—other than why they can’t win on Sunday—after Parra suffered another meltdown in the Brewers’ uninspired 8-3 loss to Washington at Nationals Park.


Though an error figured into a three-run first inning, Parra had his club down, 5-0, after only two frames. He was gone one out into the fourth, having been roughed up for eight hits, including three home runs, and eight runs (five earned).


Afterward, Parra honestly and accurately assessed his short day of work.


“I didn’t have anything today,” he said.


No one questions that Parra has some talent. Why he is not able to consistently apply it on the mound is another matter.


Parra’s inconsistency got him demoted to Class AAA Nashville in mid-June after he went 3-8 with a 7.52 earned run average in 13 starts. After a three-week refresher course with pitching coach Chris Bosio, now up with the Brewers, Parra returned and allowed just one run over 13 innings in two starts.


Since then, Parra has slipped, start by start, into previous bad habits. He has won more than he lost—5-2 since returning—but that has been the result of a robust offense more than his pitching prowess.


In seven starts since those first two solid outings after returning, Parra has surrendered 67 hits and 30 earned runs in 391/3 innings, which computes to a 6.86 ERA. In other words, that minor-league refresher course didn’t take.


All of that has come after Parra’s second-half meltdown last season, when he went from an 8-2 record before the break to pitching his way out of the rotation by September.


“We’ve got to have better pitching,” manager Ken Macha said after his staff ERA climbed to 4.90, better than only Washington (5.02) in the National League.


“We’ve got to get back to quality starts.”


Things quickly went awry for Parra in the first inning. Shortstop Alcides Escobar was unable to make a play on speedy Nyjer Morgan’s infield single into the hole, then was a fraction late getting to the bag on Cristian Guzman’s come-backer to Parra.


Parra threw a bit to the right side of the bag and high, and Escobar couldn’t hold it as Morgan came sliding in. What should have been a double play resulted in both runners being safe.


Ryan Zimmerman singled to center and advanced to second on a lazy relay to the infield, leaving runners on second and third with a run in. Parra had a chance to hold it there when Adam Dunn popped out and Josh Willingham flied out to shallow center, but Ronnie Belliard reached out and punched a 2-2 splitter into right field for a two-run single.


“I thought he hit a good pitch,” said Parra.


Parra admitted he made few good pitches after that. After Morgan executed a suicide squeeze play in the second inning, Guzman hammered a first-pitch fastball out to left.


Adam Dunn led off the third inning by crushing a hanging curveball out to right. And Zimmerman ended Parra’s day by whacking a poorly executed 3-2 changeup out to right-center for a two-run homer.


“That’s what they’re supposed to do with pitches like that,” said Parra (8-10). “You can make mistakes but not to those two guys.”


On the offensive side, the Brewers did little with Washington starter Craig Stammen (4-6) and two relievers. Hot-hitting Felipe Lopez singled in a run in the third and Escobar smacked his first big-league homer with two down in the fifth but that was the extent of the damage to Stammen during his 6 1/3 innings.


Macha said he wanted Escobar to concentrate on “being a Hoover out there” instead of home runs, but the wiry shortstop showed he has some pop.


“I’m happy for my first homer,” said Escobar, who indicated he would send the ball to his mother in Venezuela. “I was just trying to put the ball in play. I said, ‘Maybe it’s going out.’ “


Jody Gerut singled in a run in the seventh but it was not close to enough to prevent the Brewers from falling to 14-25 in day games and 5-15 on Sundays.


“Our record in day games is kind of terrible,” said Macha, who was hoping the 4:35 p.m. (EDT) start Monday against the Nationals would be classified as a night game.



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