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Milwaukee's Tyler Thornburg shows promise amid setback

Tyler Thornburg stated his case to remain in Milwaukee's rotation Wednesday night.

The Milwaukee Brewers are at a point in their season where a strong performance from a young player can be just as important as winning a game.


As tough as Wednesday's 5-4 loss to Texas was, the Brewers can take Tyler Thornburg's performance as a big positive going forward. Facing one of baseball's best lineups, the rookie right-hander allowed just one earned run on five hits in six innings for his third straight quality start.


Not as sharp early as he has been in his last two starts, Thornburg allowed a first inning run on an Adrian Beltre RBI single and needed a base running error by the Rangers to get out without further damage.


"Today he came out and really started to overthrow and the ball was up," Brewers pitching coach Rick Kranitz said. "We kept talking with 'Luc' and the three of us talked about getting the off-speed pitches over earlier in the count because that was going to be key for him tonight. This is a team that you can't throw the fastball by. He finally started getting it over and he really pitched well.


"I was real proud of him tonight. It wasn't his greatest command or stuff, but he gave us a chance to win. He threw six innings and did a great job."


After Texas squared up a pair of outs in the second inning, Thornburg settled in and allowed just an unearned run over the rest of his outing. An error by Scooter Gennett allowed David Murphy to reach and a balk called on Thornburg moved him into scoring position. Murphy moved up to third on a fly out to right field and scored on an Elvis Andrus single.


With Yovani Gallardo set to return from the disabled list as early as Friday, Thornburg was thought to be making his final start Wednesday before either heading to the bullpen or being sent back to Triple-A.


A rough start against the Rangers would have made Milwaukee's decision easy, but now the Brewers at least have to consider finding a way to keep Thornburg in the rotation.


"I like the way he threw the ball," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "I thought as the game went on his curveball got better. He threw some really good changeups and he spotted his fastball well. That's a good offense. To be able to get through them and keep the runs down, I thought that was important."


Thornburg was in line for his second career win before Milwaukee's bullpen fell apart in the seventh inning. With the Brewers leading 4-2, left-hander Michael Gonzalez walked the only two batters he faced before John Axford came on and walked Jeff Baker on four pitches to load the bases.


Axford struck out Leonys Martin for the first out, but then gave up an RBI single to Andrus. Roenicke then turned to Burke Badenhop to try and get a double play to get out of the inning, but Ian Kinsler drove in a pair with a single to left to put Texas up 5-4.


"We can't come in and walk guys," Kranitz said. "If you walk guys against a really good team or a first-place team, it is always going to come back and hurt you. If you walk the bases loaded, you are asking for trouble. That's exactly what happened. We hadn't done that in awhile. We just had a tough day, but we can't afford to do that."


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