Brewers 4, Reds 3

Brewers manager Ron Roenicke stayed away from hobbled slugger

Ryan Braun on Sunday. He was worried the All-Star outfielder would

aggravate an injury, so he decided against using him as a pinch

hitter.

As it turns out, the rest of the Brewers’ bench did just

fine.

Pinch-hitter Nyjer Morgan started a ninth-inning rally off

Cincinnati closer Francisco Cordero with a single and stolen base.

Fellow pinch-hitter Mark Kotsay tied it with an RBI single – and

yet another pinch hitter, Craig Counsell, delivered a sacrifice fly

to lift the Brewers to a 4-3 victory.

”Braunie’s sitting there, and Braunie is an option,” Roenicke

said. ”We talked about it a little bit, and I think everybody felt

good with Counsell being up there. Great win for us, and great

contributing factor from him.”

Milwaukee again was without Braun, who has missed the team’s

last eight games with a lingering calf strain. Braun will not play

in Tuesday’s All-Star game but said he expects to be ready to

return when the Brewers resume play in Colorado on Thursday.

Roenicke said before Sunday’s game that Braun would be available

as a pinch hitter, but likely only in a critical situation. The

problem, Roenicke said afterward, was Braun wouldn’t be able to leg

out a ground ball because he’d risk reinjuring his calf.

That apparently didn’t stop him from lobbying to get in the

game.

”He wanted to hit,” Roenicke said. ”If he thought we needed

him, he wanted to hit.”

Despite a rough season for Counsell so far – he was hitless in

his last 28 at-bats going into Sunday – he got the job done.

In an odd twist, Counsell also hit a game-ending sacrifice fly

off Cordero in 2008, also in the Brewers’ final game before the

All-Star break that year.

”To end the first half this way, it just kind of sends us into

the break feeling good about ourselves, feeling good about the way

we’ve been playing,” Counsell said. ”It makes those three days a

lot more peaceful.”

The suddenly struggling Cordero also crumbled against his former

team on Friday.

”I’m not doing my job right now,” Cordero said. ”It doesn’t

feel good. If I still want to have a job I’ve got to do better than

what I’m doing right now.”

Cordero (3-3) also hit Rickie Weeks in his ninth-inning meltdown

Sunday, but said it wasn’t intentional.

”I don’t want to hit him,” Cordero said. ”I don’t want to hit

anybody, especially a guy I played with.”

The Brewers’ rally ruined a return to the big leagues by

Dontrelle Willis, who gave up a pair of runs over six innings for

Cincinnati.

After sending struggling starter Edinson Volquez to Triple-A

Louisville on Thursday, the Reds turned to Willis to start Sunday’s

game. The former Florida Marlins standout had been pitching in

Louisville after failing to make the Reds’ opening-day roster

coming out of spring training.

Making his first major league appearance since pitching in

relief for Arizona last July, Willis gave up a run in each of his

first two innings. But he settled down after that.

”He was a little shaky, but got better as the game went on,”

Reds manager Dusty Baker said. ”Probably a little jittery, a

little nervous, first time back after a long time. But after he

settled down, he found the strike zone.”

Willis even contributed at the plate, doubling in the sixth

inning. Willis grabbed his left thigh after arriving at second base

and received attention from the Reds’ training staff, but stayed in

the game.

”A little too excited early, but I had fun competing against a

great ballclub,” Willis said. ”I just wanted to go out there and

give it a good outing. I feel like I did that.”

Kameron Loe (3-7) got the win.

Brewers starter Randy Wolf went seven innings, giving up seven

hits and three runs, two earned. And he nearly hit a home run,

sending a ball over the fence. The drive was ruled foul on the

field, and a replay review confirmed it.

The Brewers were trailing late after a throwing error by Weeks

while trying to turn a double play allowed a run in the fourth. But

the rally sends them into the break on a high note.

”It’s a huge win, knowing that we come in here against a team

that does play us really well,” Roenicke said. ”And (to) win

three out of four against them, (entering) the break is a great way

to do it.”

NOTES: The Brewers optioned INF/OF Mat Gamel to Triple-A

Nashville and recalled RHP Cody Scarpetta. … The Reds optioned

RHP Carlos Fisher to Triple-A Louisville to make room for Willis.

… The second-inning replay review of Wolf’s near-home run was the

second replay review in a Brewers game this season and first of the

season at Miller Park. … Sunday’s crowd was 43,896, the Brewers’

14th sellout of the season.