Weeks provides spark to help Brewers bust slump

Rickie Weeks struggled to adapt to irregular at-bats to start the season but has suddenly found his groove, with five hits in his last seven at-bats.

Jeffrey Phelps/Jeffrey Phelps/Associated Press

MILWAUKEE — It has certainly been a strange season for Rickie Weeks, to say the least.

No longer the starting second baseman for the Milwaukee Brewers, a title he’s held for most of the past nine seasons, Weeks has been regulated to starting only when the opponent is starting a left-handed pitcher.

Having never been a bench player before, Weeks struggled to adapt to irregular at-bats to start the season but has suddenly found his groove.

Weeks finally had his big moment Saturday, driving in the go-ahead run with a single in the seventh inning of Milwaukee’s 5-4 victory over the New York Yankees in front of a sellout crowd of 43,085 at Miller Park.

Brewers 5, Yankees 4

"I was excited, man," Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy said. "Rickie has been struggling all year, and he’s gone in there and had some really big hits lately, some really good ABs.

"He’s looking like the Rickie of old. That’s the guy we need. Whenever he’s right, he hits. So he really has been looking good."

After starting the season 3-for-25, Weeks is hitting .571 since April 25 and has five hits in his last seven at-bats. Weeks got just his seventh start of the season Saturday, as the Yankees sent left-hander C.C. Sabathia to the mound.

The Brewers came into Saturday’s game losers of three straight for the first time all season, needing a win to being to get out of a funk in which they’ve lost seven of their past nine games.

Making his first start at Miller Park since tossing a complete game to help the Brewers clinch a playoff berth in September of 2008, Sabathia was hit hard by his former team in the early going. Carlos Gomez led off the bottom of the first with a 462-foot home run off the windows of the stadium club in left field.

After the Yankees grabbed a 2-1 lead against Kyle Lohse in the third, Lucroy hit a two-out, two-run home run to dead center and Aramis Ramirez followed with a solo blast to left to put the Brewers up 4-2. All three runs scored against Sabathia in the third inning were unearned because an error by shortstop Brendan Ryan kept the inning alive.

Lohse allowed a solo home run to Mark Teixeira in the sixth inning, cutting Milwaukee’s lead to 4-3 at the time. The Brewers loaded the bases against Sabathia in the bottom of the sixth, causing Roenicke to lift Lohse for a pinch hitter to try and add a couple insurance runs with one out.

Yankees reliever Dellin Betances struck out pinch hitter Scooter Gennett on three pitches and fanned Gomez to end the threat, causing Lohse’s night to end early with any runs tacked on.

"In that situation you have to," Lohse said of Roenicke’s decision to pinch hit for him. "That’s National League baseball right there."

Lohse picked up the no-decision when the Yankees tied the game off reliever Tyler Thornburg in the seventh inning, but the right-hander put forth his sixth consecutive quality start by allowing just two earned runs in six innings.

"It was a weird outing again," Lohse said. "I felt like I threw pretty well. I made a couple of mistakes — hung a changeup to Gardner that one pitch and left a fastball up to Teixeira. I felt like a lot of their hits found holes. I just tried to work around it and limit the damage."

A seeing-eye single by Alfonso Soriano tied the game in the top of the seventh inning, but Zach Duke was able to induce a double play ball off the bat of Carlos Beltran to keep the game tied.

Lucroy doubled with one out in the seventh inning and moved to third when reliever Alfredo Aceves balked with two outs. Looking to drive in his first run of the season, Weeks snuck a ground ball between the shortstop and third baseman to score Lucroy with the eventual winning run.

"He has been swinging the bat a lot better," Roenicke said. "(It was) nice to have somebody come through with that big hit when we needed it. Rick has been doing a great job with it."

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