Roenicke searching for answers after stinging setback

These are the games the Milwaukee Brewers have to win, but they continue to let winnable games slip through their grasp.

With the chance to grab a win Wednesday night in Pittsburgh thanks to a pitching performance that was certainly good enough, John Axford allowed the Pirates to tie the game in the eighth while Milwaukee’s offense went silent.

As the Brewers ran thin on bullpen arms, Pittsburgh winning the game on a walk-off became more inevitable with each scoreless frame from Milwaukee’s offense. Andrew McCutchen made sure the last pitcher in the Brewers’ bullpen didn’t have to work long as he greeted Mike Fiers with a leadoff home run in the 12th inning to give the Pirates a 4-3 win.

“It’s always tough when you have a lead going into the late innings and give it up to tie it and then can’t score,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. “We went a long time without scoring.”

The Brewers went seven innings without scoring, but still had a chance to win if the bullpen could have held the lead late. Having used Burke Badenhop, Brandon Kintzler and Michael Gonzalez to get through the last out of the sixth and the seventh innings, Roenicke had a choice between Axford, Alfredo Figaro and Fiers for the eighth. The skipper chose to go with Axford.

Neil Walker led off with a flare to left that fell for a base hit. After Axford struck out Pedro Alvarez, Russell Martin yanked a fastball down into the corner that scored Walker to tie the game. Brewers shortstop Jean Segura likely had a play on Walker at the plate but his throw was high and off the mark.

The errant throw allowed Martin to get to third, but Axford kept the game tied by getting Clint Barmes to ground out to the drawn-in infield and striking out pinch hitter Travis Snider.

Though the game was tied, Axford failed to convert on another late-game opportunity. His ERA actually fell to 9.20, but he was hit with his third blown save of the season.

“Ax has done well against those guys,” Roenicke said. “We still have confidence he’s going to pitch well so that we thought that was a good option.”

When asked what’s next for Axford, Roenicke wasn’t sure.

“I don’t know, I don’t know,” Roenicke said. “It’s hard to figure out. We still have confidence in him. Nothing seems to go right. We’ll see.”

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