MILWAUKEE — By striking out the side on nine pitches in the fourth inning Thursday, Mike Fiers accomplished the rare feat of an immaculate inning.
But Fiers wasn’t in the mood to celebrate his accomplishment after allowing five runs on a career-high five walks over five innings in Milwaukee’s 14-4 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers at Miller Park.
"I pitched like crap," Fiers said. "I gave them way too many opportunities to capitalize on mistakes I made. Walking five isn’t going to cut it against a good-hitting team like this. I put myself in bad situations in a couple innings and they capitalized on every walk I made. Just not a good outing."
With the game tied 1-1 with one out in the third, Fiers suddenly lost command. He issued four-pitch walks to Joc Pederson and Yasmani Grandal before allowing a single to Howie Kendrick. That loaded the bases for Adrian Gonzalez, who flared a two-run single into center to put the Dodgers up 3-1.
The Brewers fought back to tie the game in the fourth, while a double play helped Fiers work around a leadoff walk in the fifth.
Fiers jumped ahead 1-2 on Alex Guerrero only to throw three straight balls to issue a free pass to start the sixth. Andre Ethier followed with a triple into the right field corner that put the Dodgers up 4-3 and ended the afternoon for Fiers.
"The time I needed to come through was that (sixth) inning, and I didn’t," Fiers said. "I started the inning off with a walk, and that usually doesn’t end up well, and then the triple and I put our bullpen into a tough situation."
Los Angeles would go on to torch Brewers relievers Jeremy Jeffress, Neal Cotts, Rob Wooten and Jonathan Broxton for nine runs on eight hits and five walks over four innings.
Grandal hit three-run home runs in the eighth and ninth innings to become the first Dodgers player to drive in eight runs in a game since James Loney had nine RBI on Sept. 28, 2006.
Fiers’ outing was a microcosm of his season. Over half of the outs he recorded Thursday were on strikeouts, but he also issued a career-high five walks.
"Mike’s stuff is good," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "The strikeout totals tell you his stuff is good. Five walks — that lineup puts a lot of pressure on you. They are patient. Very few of them will chase out of the zone. I think Mike understands that he can attack in the zone. His strikeout totals tell you he can attack in the zone."
Fiers needed just nine pitches to strike out Enrique Hernandez, Carlos Frias and Pederson in the fourth. According to Baseball Almanac, the 29-year-old is just the 79th pitcher in baseball history to record an immaculate inning.
"It doesn’t matter how many strikeouts I had," Fiers said. "It’s putting our team in a good chance to succeed, and I didn’t do that. Giving up five runs in five innings ain’t going to cut it, and it shouldn’t. You can talk about we didn’t score enough runs, but we scored enough runs.
"That game was in our hands and I was pretty much the main factor in giving that game back to them, and they had the momentum to score whatever they scored later on. We were in control of that game and I gave it away in that fifth inning."
After not allowing more than three earned runs in any of his 10 starts for the Brewers in 2014, Fiers has lasted longer than five innings in just two of six starts this season and is averaging less than five innings per outing.
Fiers appeared to take a step forward by tossing six innings with 12 strikeouts against the Chicago Cubs last Saturday, but he was unable to build on the strong performance.
It is belief," Counsell said. "It is execution. It is going after it. It is that next step for him. He’s shown in the past he has a real ability to throw strikes. In the sixth inning, you have to lock it in and focus to keep getting the job done. He certainly has that ability."