MILWAUKEE — After Lyle Overbay connected for a first-inning grand slam to allow a struggling offense to breathe a bit with a 5-1 lead, the Milwaukee Brewers had to be feeling pretty good about their chances Tuesday night.
How could they not?
The Brewers entered with a 44-10 record when scoring four or more runs and had dropped just three games all season when they had scored five or more. But after dropping back-to-back pitcher’s duels, Milwaukee found itself at the short end of a slugfest Tuesday. Starter Wily Peralta was tagged with nine earned runs in 4 1/3 innings as the Brewers lost for the seventh time in their last eight games, 9-7, to the Philadelphia Phillies at Miller Park.
"It’s frustrating," Peralta said. "Especially the way we are playing lately. They gave me the lead early, and I didn’t do my job. I should have stopped it and won that ballgame. I didn’t do my job tonight."
After scoring seven runs in their last four games, the Brewers broke out against Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick in the first inning. A solo home run from Scooter Gennett tied the game at 1, while a single from Jonathan Lucroy and walks to Aramis Ramirez and Khris Davis loaded the bases.
Overbay connected on a 1-1 cutter for a 430-foot home run to right, his fifth career grand slam.
"When you come through with five runs in the first inning with the way we feel about our pitching staff, it should win the ballgame for you," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "It was disappointing when you swing the bat well."
That’s when things got a bit strange, as Peralta ran into some bad luck early in the second inning. After Marlon Byrd reached on an infield single, Cody Asche hit a soft line drive that hit the third-base bag on a fly and ricocheted toward second for a base hit.
Peralta then walked Domonic Brown to load the bases. An infield single from Koyie Hill scored Philadelphia’s second run of the night, while the Phillies cut Milwaukee’s lead to 5-4 on a two-run double from Ben Revere.
After a walk to Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley put the Phillies on top for good with a two-run single in the hole between first and second base.
It was very reminiscent of a Peralta start from the first half of 2013, as a couple of bad breaks early in an inning would lead to things getting away from the young right-hander. Peralta hasn’t been sharp over his last handful of starts, but Tuesday was the first time an outing completely got away from him.
By allowing nine earned runs in just 4 1/3 innings, Peralta’s ERA jumped from 3.35 to 3.95.
"He isn’t on his game," Roenicke said. "We need to get him back on his game and get him confident. We need this guy. He’s a big part of that rotation. With the stuff he has, he can get on a roll and win a lot of games in a row for you, and he did it earlier. Hopefully we get him back."
All seven of Milwaukee’s runs Tuesday came via the home run, as the Brewers still went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position. Mark Reynolds’ two-run, pinch-hit home run in the sixth inning cut Philadelphia’s lead to 9-7, but Milwaukee left two runners on in the sixth and eighth.
The Brewers have five games remaining before the All-Star break, meaning there’s still time to head into their four days off with a good feeling. But by having dropped seven of eight games, Milwaukee’s lead in the National League Central is down to three games over St. Louis and 3 1/2 over Cincinnati.
"We are not playing that great right now," Peralta said. "But we’re a good team. These are things that happen to every team. We’re going to bounce back."
Roenicke agreed, saying there’s certainly still a high level of confidence within the clubhouse.
"It’s a rut that we are in right now," Roenicke said. "I still feel they are a confident. I thought the energy was good going into the game and we maintained that through the game. That’s always something you worry about, and I think we’re doing a good job of that."