Brewers fall to surging Braves

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Associated Press
Saturday, July 25, 2009
— Chipper Jones felt he let Javier Vazquez down after failing to break the game wide open with the bases loaded in the fourth.

Turns out, he just needed one more chance.

Jones hit a go-ahead homer in the sixth and Martin Prado and Nate McLouth also homered to pace a season-best 17-hit effort by Atlanta, lifting Vazquez and the surging Braves over the Milwaukee Brewers 9-4 on Friday night.

Vazquez struck out nine over seven innings, Prado hit a three-run homer in the third and McLouth a two-run insurance drive in the eighth for Atlanta (50-47), which has won seven of nine since the All-Star break.

"(I) was still seething over that bases-loaded, one-out strikeout," said Jones, who went 3 for 4 and reached base five times. "I had a feeling that might come back to haunt us at some point."

Vazquez (8-7) gave up four runs off seven hits and struck out home run derby champ Prince Fielder four times after Fielder had homered off him in their last meeting June 6.

"He's a great hitter, and I treat him like a great hitter," Vazquez said. "He got me last time with the home run and I got him this time."

Vazquez wasn't as sharp as his previous nine starts, allowing three walks and a two-run homer to Ryan Braun to tie it at 4 in the fifth before Jones answered off Carlos Villanueva (2-7).

"If we could just get Javy one more run, I think they had done the majority of their damage to get it tied up," Jones said. "Once we got the run and he got through that inning, striking out Braun and Fielder in the seventh that was absolutely huge."

Already up 1-0, Vazquez doubled off Brewers starter Manny Parra to start the third and McLouth walked.

Prado homered down the left-field line to make it 4-0 and added an RBI single in the ninth after coming into Friday's game with 31 hits in July to lead the majors.

"I don't think about that, I'm thinking that we're a team, we're playing as a team. That's the most important thing right now," Prado said. "Somebody's going to step up."

Parra, trying to build off two sharp starts following a month in the minors, worked out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the fourth by retiring Jones for the first time in six career at-bats. But the next time Jones came up against Milwaukee's bullpen would prove to be the difference with a line-drive homer off Villanueva to break a 4-4 tie.

Vazquez showed a momentary lack of control in the third with four-pitch walks to Jason Kendall and Braun after not allowing two total over his previous 23 innings. Craig Counsell's two-run double cut Atlanta's lead to 4-2 before Vazquez struck out Fielder and Casey McGehee to strand two.

"My command wasn't that good today," Vazquez said.

Braun's shot, his 19th this year, snapped a streak of 77 2-3 innings by Braves pitchers without allowing a home run, but that wouldn't be enough for Milwaukee, which has lost 13 of 19 and is fourth in the NL Central after entering July with a two-game lead. It's the first time since May 2 the Brewers (48-48) have been at .500.

In the seventh with a man in scoring position, Vazquez struck out Braun and got Fielder for the fourth time to end his night.

"I didn't make any contact. I don't know what else to say. Good swings, though," said Fielder, who went 0 for 4 with four strikeouts on opening day in 2006 when he was a rookie. "I was hitting line drives to the catcher."

Said Jones: "That was a fluky night for Prince, but man, I'm glad he had it."

McLouth added his homer moments later and Garret Anderson's RBI single made it 8-4.

"A lot of hits," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "Prado to put us way ahead, Chipper to get us back ahead and McLouth to ice it down for us."

NOTES: Parra allowed four runs off 10 hits and three walks in five innings. ... Braves C Brian McCann went 0 for 6, the only starter who was hitless. ... Brewers GM Doug Melvin said his trade discussions have been quiet, but mentioned Toronto GM J.P. Ricciardi's decision to set a July 28 date for a deal to be in place for starter Roy Halladay was a good move. "I'd rather do that before the deadline, too, and not play into that 'final deadline' stuff," Melvin said. ... Brewers owner Mark Attanasio is in town to talk trades, too, but said it's "disruptive" to float names.

Last updated: 10:52 am Thursday, December 13, 2012

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