Brewers feel better after big night at plate
MILWAUKEE — With a scoreless streak of 32 innings in the rearview mirror, the Milwaukee Brewers surpassed their run total of any of their first 11 games in one inning Tuesday night.
After not being able to scratch anything across the plate for most of last week, the Brewers scored eight runs in the third inning off San Francisco left-hander Barry Zito, who entered not having allowed any runs in his first two starts this season.
But getting a win still wasn’t easy.
Rookie right-hander Wily Peralta couldn’t make it through the fifth inning and the Brewers’ bullpen had to be used heavily, but Milwaukee’s big inning was enough to hold on for a 10-8 win.
“It was sure nice to see,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said of the third inning offensive outburst. “Another big inning, which seems to be us. We seem to be big innings and not consistent through games. I’ll certainly take that.”
Prior to Tuesday’s game, Roenicke made it clear the Brewers need more production throughout the lineup in order to win games without Aramis Ramirez and Corey Hart and can’t just rely on the top three hitters in the lineup.
The third inning gave the skipper just what he was hoping for, as the bottom of the order came through with big hits.
Down 3-1, Peralta started the inning with a broken-bat single and Norichika Aoki was hit by a pitch. Shortstop Jean Segura reached on an infield single to load the bases with nobody out for Ryan Braun.
Braun struck out and the sinking feeling of letting another chance at a big inning slip away crept back into Milwaukee’s mind. But Rickie Weeks came through with a clutch double that hit the left field line and kicked into the stands, scoring two.
Not only did the double tie the game, but the Brewers broke the ice with a big hit.
“I think we needed that at that moment,” Weeks said. “That’s a clutch situation right there and we just wanted to get something across the board to put the pressure on them. It was good to get that going and it was a pretty big inning for us.”
Jonathan Lucroy followed with a two-run single to give Milwaukee the lead and after a pair of singles from Alex Gonzalez and Carlos Gomez reloaded the bases, Yuniesky Betancourt unloaded them with a grand slam.
Eight runs, seven hits, and the Brewers led 9-3. For once it seemed as if they’d get an easy win, but like their three previous wins this season, the Brewers had to earn it.
Peralta fell apart with command issues in the fifth inning, allowing a run and leaving with the bases loaded and nobody out. Michael Fiers came in and got out of the inning with just one run allowed, but loaded the bases himself with nobody out in the sixth inning.
Brandon Kintzler got out of it with just a sacrifice fly scoring a run, but all of a sudden it was a 9-7 game.
“You can’t ever let up because you never know what’s going to happen,” Lucroy said. “Next thing you know it was a two-run ballgame. You just have to keep battling. We just have to pitch a bit better.”
San Francisco even got three loud outs to the warning track in the final three innings, including Andres Torres coming up just short on a game-tying home run on his fly out to end the game.
“The balls were up in the zone and big league hitters don’t miss balls that are up,” Lucroy said. “They hit them hard but obviously it worked out for us. Those are all outs, they all count.”
The offensive explosion was a welcome sign for the Brewers, but consistency is the next step. Milwaukee scored eight runs in the third inning, but just two the rest of the game. A six-run lead in the fourth inning is usually a sign your main bullpen guys can take the night off, but Roenicke had to turn to five relievers and use his closer.
But the way the Brewers have been playing early this season, they can’t be picky about a win, especially on a day when an off-the-field distraction dominated the conversation.
Regardless of how Tuesday’s win nearly slipped away, Milwaukee needed this kind of effort offensively in its quest to be able to score enough runs to stay afloat without two of its best run producers.
Follow Andrew Gruman on Twitter.