Lohse suffers tough-luck outing in Brewers loss
MILWAUKEE — Kyle Lohse’s season debut went well, but a couple of pitches prevented the right-hander from picking up his first win of the year.
Home runs by Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman accounted for the three runs against Lohse in his seven innings of work Tuesday, as the Braves went deep three times in a 5-2 victory over the Brewers at Miller Park.
Cruising through four innings, Lohse walked Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons which eventually extended the inning for Heyward. The Atlanta center fielder hit a 2-0 fastball into the seats in right to put the Braves up for good at 2-1.
"He just got that one," catcher Jonathan Lucroy said. "That’s where we were going."
Lohse was more peeved at the walk to Simmons that brought Heyward to the plate in the fifth inning. With the pitcher following, retiring Simmons would have gotten Lohse out of the frame without allowing a run.
"I wouldn’t have gotten in the situation with Heyward if I’d had not walked Simmons," Lohse said. "That for me was more of a key. Made a decent pitch to Heyward; it just wasn’t up enough. There was a spot I was trying to go to around his hands and it was just low enough that he could get to it."
Freeman hit the first of his two home runs Tuesday leading off the sixth against Lohse. The solo shot on a 3-2 slider leaked back over the plate, and Freeman was able to hook it inside the foul pole in right.
"I just missed with a backdoor slider and tried to go back to it again and just got around it too much," Lohse said. "Came back way too much plate. But for me the key was walking Simmons that inning, because you have the inning set up to where you don’t have to get to the top of the lineup if I do my job there."
Lohse finished the night with eight strikeouts, the most he’s had in a game since fanning nine against Washington with the Cardinals on Sept. 29, 2012. He was able to get through seven innings in under 100 pitches and kept the Brewers in the game despite the two home runs against him.
"It was good besides that," Lohse said. "But that’s how this game goes — you’ve got to make your pitches, and every time you miss there’s a chance something like that can happen. Other than that I felt good, felt strong. I’d like to have a little better result, but it is what it is."
After Carlos Gomez led off the game with a home run, the Brewers couldn’t muster much offensively against Braves starter Alex Wood. Making just his 12th career start and his first against Milwaukee, Wood scattered five hits over seven innings and left with a 4-1 lead.
The Brewers put two runners on after Gomez’s home run in the first inning, but Khris Davis’ line drive up the middle caromed off Wood right to Simmons for an easy out. A hit by Rickie Weeks and a walk to Mark Reynolds gave Milwaukee two on with nobody out in the second, but Lohse failed to get a bunt down and Gomez hit into a double play.
"We had a couple of opportunities, though," manager Ron Roenicke said. "First and second, no outs, (the failed bunt is) a huge play. When you get those opportunities, you need to put pressure on them. Davis’ line drive back up the middle, if that goes through it’s a run. A couple of situations where we had chances."
Much like the walk to Simmons, Lohse was kicking himself for not being able to get the bunt down to advance the runners in the second inning.
"For me, it’s weird," Lohse said. "It’s hard for me to bunt lefties — especially when they’re kind of herky-jerky. I don’t see it, I don’t pick it up. That was another big fundamental thing that I normally get the job done and could have really put some pressure on them out there. When I don’t get the job done like that, it kind of kills the rally right there."
First step: It was a small sample size, but Brewers reliever Jim Henderson had success in his first outing of the season Tuesday, striking out Braves left fielder Justin Upton to end the eighth inning.
Removed as closer before the season even started due to a shaky spring, Henderson hit 95 miles per hour on the stadium gun on the fastball that struck out Upton.
"The ball came out better," Roenicke said. "Three pitches looked like they had life on it. When he’s up in the zone and has life, he’s really tough to hit."
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