Brewers struggling to score runs with depleted middle of the order

BY foxsports • August 3, 2013

MILWAUKEE -- With who is missing from the lineup, the Milwaukee Brewers are going to have nights like this.

Right now, Milwaukee's offense is ripe for a good pitcher to cruise through, and Dan Haren did just that. Haren tossed seven scoreless innings in Washington's 3-0 victory over the Brewers on Saturday night.

The shutout loss snapped Milwaukee's 86-game streak without being blanked on the scoreboard. The streak was the longest active in baseball and dated back to April 28.

But while there haven't been shutouts, the Brewers had suffered through many performances of late where the offense was unable to support a solid pitching performance. Donovan Hand worked a career-best seven innings Saturday, but he ended up with a loss.

"The last two days we've been facing guys who are throwing the ball really good," Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez said. "I think we can be frustrated, but we have to give credit sometimes. We have to continue to play the game. When the pitcher throws the ball low in the zone and commands all his pitches, that makes it tough."

Like teammate Jordan Zimmermann did Friday, Haren kept the Brewers in check all night long. Relying mostly on his cutter, Haren didn't allow a Milwaukee runner past second base after Rickie Weeks' leadoff double in the first inning.

Though he entered with a 5.49 ERA, Haren now has a 2.40 ERA since he came off the disabled list on July 8.

"To me, he maybe made one mistake in three at-bats," Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy said. "That split-finger he throws is pretty good. When he throws that and locates that, you know it's going to be a tough battle. I thought he looked pretty good and made some tough pitches when he had to.

"It's not easy right now having fire power. We're kind of lacking it right now."

Gomez, who struck out twice in four at-bats, was equally complementary of Haren.

"I know we are missing a few guys, but the lineup has been that for awhile and we've been doing good," Gomez said. "The last two games, Zimmermann did a great job, and the guy today was unbelievable. He's been struggling a little bit, but he commands all of his pitches. He throws a splitter, slider, change-up and a lot of cutters. All of the cutters he threw -- I looked at the video -- he hit the catcher's glove every time."

While Haren cruised on the mound, the Brewers didn't take advantage of the few scoring chances they did have. After Weeks' leadoff double in the first inning, Norichika Aoki sacrificed him to third base. The Brewers were then unable to drive Weeks in. Sandwiched around a Lucroy walk, Jean Segura struck out and Gomez lined out to end the inning.

"When we get these opportunities, we need to figure out a way to get guys in," Roenicke said. "We didn't have a lot today, we didn't swing the bat that well. At that point a ground ball to the infield scores the guy. We have to make sure we put it in play.

"Haren was good, there's no doubt. The cutter is a really good pitch for him and he had great command with it, but I didn't think we swung the bats that well either."

It's a reality, albeit a tough one, the Brewers are going to struggle to score at times without Ryan Braun, Aramis Ramirez and Corey Hart in the lineup.

The rest of the season is going to be a battle to score runs, especially when a pitcher is on like Haren was Saturday.

"I don't want to keep making excuses, but we are without our three, four and five hitters," Roenicke said. "We're going to battle the best we can. I think you take those guys out of any lineup and you are going to struggle at times."

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