MILWAUKEE — When games are lost in the way the Milwaukee Brewers dropped Tuesday night’s contest, a variety of factors likely played a role in the defeat.
First off, the Brewers couldn’t score again after plating five, first-inning runs to jump out to a 5-2 lead. That allowed the Arizona Diamondbacks to chip away at the deficit and eventually overtake Milwaukee’s bullpen and rally for a 7-5 win at Miller Park.
With left-hander Will Smith unavailable, Brandon Kintzler got the call in the eighth inning and was touched for three runs and his first loss of the season. A bloop double from Paul Goldschmidt started Arizona’s rally, while Miguel Montero tied the game at 5 with a base hit.
Aaron Hill followed with the decisive blow, a two-run shot to left off Kintzler. After allowing just two home runs in 77 innings last season, Kintzler has been touched for three long balls this season and two in the last three days.
"I mean, homers to righties on a fastball? I think the last time was 2010, and now I’ve given up two in two games," Kintzler said. "Obviously, it’s not something I’m used to, but I’ll definitely fix it. I feel terrible about letting the team down in that situation."
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke may have turned to Smith to face the left-handed hitting Montero if the big lefty was available, but stuck with Kintzler over the left-handed Zach Duke.
"If we bring in Duke to face Montero, the next batter is Hill. What do we do there?" Roenicke said. "Then the next batter is a pinch hitter, what do we do there? If we bring (Rob) Wooten in after Duke, then we are left with (Francisco Rodriguez) and (Wei-Chung) Wang and that’s it.
"When Smith is down, what do you want me to do? Duke has pitched well, and I can get him in there. The choices with Henderson out, I could bring Wooten in and do that with Wooten, but we need Kintzler to throw the ball well."
After pitching through a slight strain in his right rotator cuff and not allowing a run in five outings, Kintzler has been hit for four earned runs in 3 1/3 innings since his return from the disabled list.
Kintzler retired the first batter he faced in the eighth inning and jumped ahead 0-2 on Goldschmidt before the Diamondbacks slugger flared a double just fair to right.
"Goldschmidt, it was a good pitch and he just flared it out there, and after that, I left two pitches up," Kintzler said. "Some pitches, I’m right where I need to be, and sometimes, I’m just not there. I need to get more consistent."
The Brewers appeared to have solved an old nemesis in the first inning, jumping on Diamondbacks starter Josh Collmenter for five runs. Four of the five runs were unearned due to a two-out throwing error by shortstop Chris Owings, but the Brewers hit the ball hard in the opening frame.
Collmenter settled in to allow just two hits over the next three innings before exiting after allowing back-to-back singles with two outs in the sixth.
Facing one of the worst bullpens in baseball, including a rookie reliever making his major-league debut, the Brewers were retired in order in the last three innings of the game.
"We did a great job offensively the first inning," Roenicke said. "Last night’s game we won because we kept adding on. We didn’t do a thing after the first inning. We need to add on. We had him in pitch-count trouble through three innings and then that fourth and fifth innings were really quick innings and he was able to go six. We shouldn’t have let him go that far."
Brewers starter Marco Estrada settled in himself after allowing a two-run home run to Goldschmidt in the first inning, but the right-hander was again burned by the long ball. Three of the four runs Estrada allowed over six innings Tuesday came via the homer, as 12 of the 17 earned runs scored against him have come on home runs.
The only run Arizona manufactured came when Estrada didn’t pay attention to A.J. Pollock at second base in the fifth inning. The Diamondbacks centerfielder swiped third easily, allowing him to score on a weak groundout by Collmenter.
"It was a tough game," Estrada said. "I thought I actually threw the ball pretty well today and they still ended up scoring four on me."
Losing like they did Tuesday hasn’t happened to the Brewers yet this season. Late leads have been protected by the bullpen the vast majority of the time, while Milwaukee was 18-0 when scoring four or more runs in a game.
It will be a test to see how the Brewers bounce back from letting a win slip through their fingers in a game they controlled the majority of the way.
"It’s going to happen," Estrada said. "It happens to everybody. We’re going to forget about it. The good thing is we get to come right back tomorrow, early game. I’ve forgot about it already. It’s in the books. Just let it go and get after it tomorrow. That’s all you can do."