Estrada sharp into 7th, Brewers beat Braves 5-0
MILWAUKEE It took the Milwaukee Brewers more than four months to reach the break-even point, and they no intention of stopping there.
Marco Estrada pitched shutout ball into the seventh inning, Rickie Weeks and Aramis Ramirez homered and the Brewers beat the Atlanta Braves 5-0 Tuesday night.
The Brewers won their eighth in a row at Miller Park and got back to the .500 mark for the first time since April 24. Milwaukee has surged back into the NL wild-card race by winning 17 of 22 overall, and beat the wild card-leading Braves for the second straight day.
“We’re playing great baseball and we know we have the team to go all the way,” Estrada said. “A lot of people doubted us when we were down, but we didn’t lose any confidence. We knew how well we could play.”
Estrada (3-6) was dominant from the start, allowing only two singles to Andrelton Simmons in the first five innings.
Estrada allowed four hits in 6 2-3 innings and struck out six.
It was a bounce back start for Estrada, who gave up four runs in five innings of last Thursday’s 6-2 loss to Miami.
“I felt very good out there tonight,” he said. “I was really locked in and I had great defense behind me.”
One of those key defensive plays came in the seventh inning. After a one-out single by Dan Uggla, Lyle Overbay hit a drive into the gap and right fielder Norichka Aoki made a leaping catch to prevent an extra-base hit.
After the grab, Estrada jumped up the air and pumped his fist.
“I was so excited because that was such a great catch,” he said.
Aoki said he knew he could get to the ball as soon as it was hit.
“I had to jump to get it because I am not as tall as everyone else,” Aoki said through a translator. “We have a very good team and we’ve felt all along that we can win these games.”
Four Milwaukee pitchers combined on a five-hitter. Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said he was thrilled to get back to .500, but wants to keep the run going.
“It is nice to get there, but is more important in the way we are playing right now,” he said. “Our pitching has been outstanding, we’re getting clutch hits from a lot of different people and we are playing very good defense.”
Tim Hudson (14-6) was almost as good as Estrada for the Braves early in the game. Other than Rickie Weeks’ 18th home run in the first, he allowed only an infield single to Jean Segura in his first five innings.
Hudson gave up four runs and seven hits in 6 2-3 innings.
“I thought I pitched better than giving up all those runs late,” he said. “Four runs seemed like a dozen the way their guys were throwing. It was just one of those games.”
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said his team had several long outs, including Uggla’s long drive in the seventh inning.
“We swung the bats hard, but couldn’t get it off the wall or in front of the wall to get some runs,” he said. “We’re not feeling too good right now with the way we’re swinging the bats.”
The Brewers broke away in the seventh by scoring three times. Segura drove in the first run with a grounder, pinch hitter Taylor Green had an RBI single and Aoki doubled home another run.
Aramis Ramirez hit his 23rd home run in the eighth for the Brewers.
NOTES: Brewers 1B Corey Hart was out of the starting lineup for the second straight game with plantar fascia on his left foot. He is listed as day-to-day and Roenicke is hopeful he will be able to play Wednesday against the Braves. ... Gonzalez said RHP Ben Sheets felt no pain Tuesday, one day after throwing a simulated game. Gonzalez said Sheets, who has been on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation since Aug. 26, could be activated either Wednesday or Friday. ... Brewers RHP Yvonia Gallardo (14-8) will face Braves LHP Paul Maholm (12-9) in the series finale.