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Brewers defense lapses again

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Associated Press
July 7, 2010
— Shoddy defense has been a recent downfall for the Milwaukee Brewers, who continued that trend on Tuesday night in a 6-1 loss to the San Francisco Giants.

Corey Hart’s 20-game hitting streak also was snapped.


A close game turned the Giants’ way in the sixth inning, when shortstop Craig Counsell’s throwing error led directly to two of San Francisco’s five runs in the inning.


A beneficiary was Giants 20-year-old rookie pitcher Madison Bumgarner, who was showered with beer after allowing just three hits over eight shutout innings for his first major league win.


“It hasn’t really settled in yet,” Bumgarner said in front of his locker, which contained a ball and scorecard from the game as mementos. “Probably tomorrow morning, it will kind of set in. It’s a very humbling experience to get a win up here. This is the best there is. I’m just glad to be pitching up here.”


So are his teammates, who showed their appreciation by dousing Bumgarner with beer after teammate Barry Zito summoned him to the shower.


The left-hander, making his fourth major league start and third of the season, gave up three singles, struck out five and walked three. Bumgarner (1-2) picked up his first career RBI as part of the Giants’ five-run sixth.


Milwaukee’s Randy Wolf (6-8) gave up five runs, one earned, in seven innings, striking out eight and walking four, but Counsell’s two-run throwing error opened the door to San Francisco’s big inning.


Even Bumgarner realizes his good fortune.


“Everything pretty much went my way,” he said. “I caught some breaks this game.”


Bumgarner, the team’s first-round draft pick in 2007 and rated San Francisco’s No. 2 prospect before the start of the season, has gone at least seven innings in each game since being recalled from Triple-A Fresno on June 26.


“To me, it’s his third quality start in a row,” catcher Buster Posey said. “He threw the ball in and out really well, had that cutter working, was able to throw the changeup for a strike when he needed it, and then later in the game he started flipping curveballs in. He did a great job.”


Wolf used a devastating curveball to cruise through five innings, with some crossing the plate in the upper 60s. But he found trouble—and was the victim of shoddy defense—in the sixth.


Andres Torres and Freddy Sanchez walked to open the inning but Wolf struck out Posey. Torres and Sanchez then executed a double steal, and Pat Burrell was intentionally walked.


Pablo Sandoval grounded weakly to Counsell at shortstop for what should have been an easy double play. Instead, Counsell threw wildly past Rickie Weeks at second and into foul territory behind first base, scoring two runs.


“He makes that 99 out of 100 times,” Brewers manager Ken Macha said. “Probably our surest guy.”


The defensive damage continued after Edgar Renteria popped out to first. Wolf walked Aaron Rowand intentionally, and Travis Ishikawa lined a single off the glove of Weeks into right field. Burrell scored, and Sandoval followed after Weeks hesitated before throwing home. Bumgarner singled to right to score Rowand.


Counsell was in the lineup after costly errors by regular starter Alcides Escobar in each of the past two games. On Monday, Escobar booted a potential double-play ball that led to two Giants runs, as San Francisco beat Milwaukee 6-1. On Sunday, Escobar committed consecutive errors with two outs in the third inning of a loss to St. Louis that paved the way for five unearned runs.


“It’s an easy play that I screwed up,” Counsell said. “It’s as simple as that.”


And it was the turning point for San Francisco.


“We got a break; we know it,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “But you have to take advantage of them too, and I thought we did a good job of that because Wolf was throwing the ball very well.”


Indeed, Wolf said it was the best he’s thrown all year.


“I felt great,” he said. “It was my best curveball I’ve had by far this year. It was kind of weird to have one of those innings, but my past few outings I’ve felt like I’ve got better and better and better.”


A throwing error helped the Giants score another unearned run in the eighth, as Ishikawa singled, took second when Coffey threw wide of second on a sacrifice bunt attempt and scored on a sacrifice fly by Posey.


Joe Inglett’s RBI single in the ninth off Giants reliever Sergio Romo broke up the shutout, but it didn’t diminish the outing from Bumgarner.


“At 20 years old, he’s got great composure and poise out there,” Bochy said. “He’s got a good look about him. You like his presence on the mound.”



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