Another day and yet another tough loss for the Milwaukee Brewers, as Saturday’s 5-4 loss was just as frustrating as the previous two in Phoenix.
With Kyle Lohse cruising, a three-run sixth inning had the Brewers feeling good about themselves, but the wheels fell off in the seventh inning.
After getting Paul Goldschmidt to fly out to start the seventh, Lohse surrendered his third solo home run of the day, as Jason Kubel cut Milwaukee’s lead to 4-3. Cody Ross followed with a single and Miguel Montero drew a walk, ending Lohse’s day.
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Having allowed just one inherited runner to score all season, Brewers reliever John Axford has been at his best for nearly two months. But Axford simply didn’t have it Saturday night. After walking Martin Prado to load the bases, Axford fell behind 3-1 to Didi Gregorious before allowing a single to tie the game at 4-all.
Axford then walked Eric Chavez on five pitches to force in what would turn into the game-winning run. Lohse retired the first 13 batters he faced Saturday night and allowed just four hits. But three solo home runs and a shaky relief effort behind him left his final line — five earned runs in 6 1/3 innings — puzzling after how well he pitched early on.
“I really liked the way he threw the ball — those first few innings, great command,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. “He did a great job mixing speeds, kept the ball down well. Then all of a sudden he makes one mistake and it’s a home run. Another mistake and it’s a home run. It’s tough. You hope they square up the ball and get a base hit. They did a nice job hitting and got the three homers.”
While good clean-up work by Donovan Hand left Axford’s line clean of an earned run, the former closer was off for the first time since early May.
“He was a little out of whack,” Roenicke said. “But he’s pitched great for us. He’s going to have one of these games once in awhile. I know he feels bad because it came on a game when Kyle was really throwing a good ballgame.
“He’s been in a lot of ballgames. He’s going to have one of these once in awhile.”
Hand’s effort to work out of the jam down just one run was aided by a spectacular play by third baseman Jeff Bianchi. Diamondbacks center fielder A.J. Pollock smoked a line drive that Bianchi knocked down and recovered in time to make a running throw to the plate to get Prado.
That allowed the Brewers to have a fighting chance with six outs to play, but Milwaukee couldn’t get to Arizona’s shaky bullpen. The closest the Brewers came to scoring came in the eighth inning. With Jean Segura on first base after reaching on a third strike wild pitch, pinch hitter Sean Halton lined a ball just foul down the left field line.
An inch to the right and Halton has a double that scores Segura to tie the game with ease, instead Halton struck out to end the inning.
“Things just aren’t going right,” Roenicke said. “How far foul was Halton’s ball there? An inch? That’s just the way it’s going. Nothing is going right. Things just aren’t going well.”