Gennett, Nieuwenhuis homer to help Brewers end trip with win
OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Milwaukee Brewers finished their long California road trip with a close win after coming up short several times in the late innings with missed opportunities or mistakes.
Manager Craig Counsell considered the positives while noting how his club needs to do more things right to get over the hump -- especially on the road.
A pair of big swings to clear the fences sure didn't hurt.
Scooter Gennett and Kirk Nieuwenhuis homered to back Junior Guerra's first victory in more than a month, and the Brewers earned a split of their quick two-game interleague series against the Oakland Athletics with a 4-2 win Wednesday.
"We've played some good baseball as of late," Gennett said. "We haven't capitalized later in the game in key situations. . . . It's always nice to finish a road trip off with a win. It's a big off day coming up. We get a chance to get back home after 10 days and kind of regroup and hopefully take the series from the Nationals."
Gennett connected on a two-run shot in the fifth and Nieuwenhuis in the eighth.
Guerra (4-1) struck out eight over seven innings while facing the A's for the first time in his career. Milwaukee improved to 8-2 in games when he starts, but he won for the first time in six outings since beating the Cubs on May 19.
Martin Maldonado had five hits for the season coming into Wednesday's game, then added three more.
Coco Crisp homered in the fourth then made an error in left field the following inning that helped set up Milwaukee's first run.
Ramon Flores hit a one-out double in the fifth then advanced to third on Crisp's off throw.
Ryan Braun had a single and three strikeouts as the Brewers concluded a 2-7 road trip all in California -- through San Francisco, Los Angeles and back to the Bay Area to face the A's -- with just their 13th road victory in 36 games.
"Seven of the nine games, we were tied or had the lead until the sixth inning," Counsell said. "So we finished up the right way. We needed something like this. . . . This was a tough trip and to finish it on this note in a well-played game and well-pitched game, that's important."
Guerra allowed two runs and five hits with one walk. The right-hander was the first acquisition by new general manager David Stearns when claimed off waivers from the White Sox last Oct. 7.
Tyler Thornburg finished for his second save.
A's starter Daniel Mengden (0-3) struck out nine in his third career start, but is still seeking his first major league win. The right-hander was promoted to the majors on June 11 after only 43 appearances and 34 starts over three seasons in the minor leagues.
He allowed seven hits and three runs with one walk over six innings.
Mengden realizes that elusive first win will come.
"He knows we think he's good, and he is," manager Bob Melvin said. "He knows he's good, too. He might not tell you that, but he knows he's good."
With Crisp's miscue in left, Oakland committed its 10th error over the last nine games and 13th in 15.
Brewers: A MRI exam on LHP Chris Capuano's troublesome pitching elbow was inconclusive and Counsell said he would be re-evaluated to try to figure out the source of his pain, which he experienced in a simulated game Friday. . . . SS Jonathan Villar had a day off for his first time out of the lineup since May 7 at Cincinnati, a span of 41 straight starts. "It's a physical break, mental break, recharge the battery," Counsell said.
Athletics: LHP Rich Hill, on the disabled list since May 30 with a strained left groin, threw approximately 50 pitches to live hitters in a bullpen session and will throw again Friday before starting in a rehab appearance for Class-A Stockton on Monday. He could throw 60-65 pitches and it should be his only outing in the minors before being activated. . . . RF Josh Reddick (fractured left thumb) will get 20-25 at-bats during his rehab assignment with Triple-A Nashville, Melvin said. Rained out Tuesday, Reddick has played just one game, going 0 for 4 with two strikeouts.
Brewers: After an off day, Milwaukee returns home to Miller Park, where RHP Zach Davies (5-3) starts Friday against the Nationals looking to win his sixth straight decision after going 5-0 with a 2.40 ERA over his last nine.
Athletics: RHP Kendall Graveman (2-6) pitches Thursday night at Los Angeles opposite new Angels RHP Tim Lincecum, who beat the A's in his season debut Saturday.