Braun returns to help Brewers top Bucs

BY foxsports • May 5, 2009

Apparently, Ryan Braun will do anything to take on the Pittsburgh Pirates, even if it requires a hurried trip from one time zone to another to appear in a game in which the Milwaukee Brewers thought he had no chance of playing.

Rickie Weeks hit a tiebreaking, three-run homer in the ninth after a supposedly unavailable Braun tied it an inning earlier with a two-run double, helping the Brewers rally for a 7-4 victory over the Pirates on Monday night.

The Brewers scored six runs in the final two innings to earn their 16th consecutive victory over Pittsburgh. It's the longest winning streak in the majors by one team against another since the Diamondbacks took 16 in a row from the Reds from 2001-03.

There hasn't been a longer streak since the Orioles won 23 in a row from the Royals during the 1969 and 1970 seasons, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

"It's pretty remarkable. It's not easy to do," Braun said. "It's not going to happen forever, so enjoy it while it lasts."

Braun's extended day began with an early morning MRI exam that showed no structural damage in his inflamed back, continued with a rushed flight to Pittsburgh - he wasn't in town when the game began - and ended with a key hit in a game in which he wasn't supposed to play.

"Unbelievable game," said Braun, who didn't play the previous two days. "I was not anticipating playing, that's for sure. It's kind of a crazy day, something I've never experienced before."

The Pirates certainly have, especially against the Brewers.

They led 3-1 in the eighth behind Paul Maholm's effective start, only to lose the advantage when Braun blooped a double to right against reliever John Grabow.

"I still thought I had something left, but I also understand that we have a very good bullpen and those guys have closed out a lot of games the last two years," Maholm said. "It's disappointing, though, to keep losing to the same team over and over."

When Braun showed up in the dugout at mid-game, manager Ken Macha told him he might get an at-bat.

"He came up to me and said, 'If you're going to use me, when are you going to use me?"' Macha said. "I said, 'Let's see how this inning goes.' And he was ready."

Pittsburgh regained the lead at 4-3 in its half of the eighth on rookie Jason Jaramillo's RBI double, but closer Matt Capps quickly gave it back. Jason Kendall and Craig Counsell singled, Corey Hart walked and J.J. Hardy hit a sacrifice fly to tie it.

With runners on first and third, Capps (0-2) repeatedly attempted a pickoff throw designed to keep the runner on first from taking off, only to have Weeks hit the ball deep into the left-field bleachers for his sixth homer after he finally threw home. Capps has allowed six runs in two innings the last two days.

Manager John Russell said the numerous pickoff throws, which drew boos from the sparse crowd of 8,482, didn't distract Capps.

"I've still got to get out of that inning," Capps said. "I can't walk a guy with two runners on and I can't put myself in a 3-2 count with two runners on base in a tie game where I have to throw a fastball and he knows it's coming."

Mike DiFelice (3-0) won it despite giving up Jaramillo's double, with Trevor Hoffman pitching the ninth for his fourth save in four opportunities.

The Pirates lost their sixth in seven games and fell below .500 at 12-13. Milwaukee won its 10th in 13 games since starting 4-9.

"It was a great win for us," Weeks said. "As I always keep saying, this team is so resilient."

The Pirates took the two-run lead against Yovani Gallardo, who gave up two hits over eight shutout innings, struck out 11 and homered in beating them 1-0 on Wednesday. Brandon Moss had a run-scoring triple in the second, Andy LaRoche hit his first homer - and the first by Pittsburgh in seven games - and Nate McLouth singled in a run.

Maholm was much sharper than he was during a 6-5 loss to the Brewers on Tuesday, striking out seven and walking one.


With Braun out of the lineup for the third consecutive day, third baseman Bill Hall started in left field for the first time in his career. He lasted only 1 1/2 innings before being lifted with cramping in his right hamstring. ... No doubt Hall didn't want to leave - he is 16 of 28 with three homers against Maholm.

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