Counsell looking for answers to stop allowing home runs

Milwaukee Brewers manager Craig Counsell watches the ninth inning of the Crew's 7-5 loss against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Miller Park.

Jeff Hanisch/Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

MILWAUKEE — It is easy to figure out allowing home runs has been an issue for the Milwaukee Brewers’ pitching staff. The solution may be as simple as executing pitches, but the Brewers have yet to figure out how to keep the ball in the yard.

Arizona connected for four home runs, including a tie-breaking blast in the eighth inning, to send Milwaukee to its sixth consecutive loss with a 7-5 victory Friday at Miller Park.

"We have to fix it," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "There’s no question about it. It’s too many."

Milwaukee has now allowed 64 home runs on the season, two behind San Diego for the major-league lead.

Ender Inciarte led off the third inning with a solo shot, while David Peralta homered two batters later to give the Diamondbacks a 3-1 lead on Jimmy Nelson and the Brewers.

"Those two home runs were first-pitch fastballs," Nelson said. "If I execute those a little better and if I command it within the zone better, those might not happen."

The Brewers homered twice themselves Friday, including a two-run blast from Adam Lind that evened the score at 3-3 in the bottom of the third.

Nelson allowed seven hits and hit two batters over six innings, but the right-hander kept his team in the game by working out of trouble multiple times to strand five runners.

After the Brewers left the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh, struggling reliever Jonathan Broxton surrendered a tie-breaking, two-out solo blast to the light-hitting Nick Ahmed.

Diamondbacks 7, Brewers 5

Ahmed, who entered with just three career home runs, hit a 3-1 fastball from Broxton into the home bullpen in left-center field.

"I had two stupid pitches that inning," Broxton said. "One of them I got away with and one of them I didn’t."

Broxton has now allowed four home runs, the most he’s allowed in a single season since he gave up six in 2007 with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

With the 30-year-old set-up man holding a 7.36 ERA, Counsell is contemplating a role change for Broxton.

"I think we have to start thinking about it because it’s a big spot and we need outs in those spots," Counsell said. "We need to give ourselves a chance in those spots. Those are big leverage innings he’s pitching and we have to get outs in those innings.

"It feels like there’s a little bit of a lack of put away for him. He got behind and you get behind like that you feel like he should be able to challenge them, get a good fastball and get an out with it."

While obviously frustrated, Broxton says he is in a good place mentally despite his season-long struggles and feels his primary issue is consistently falling behind hitters.

"The ball is coming out fine," Broxton said. "I’m just getting behind guys I shouldn’t be, especially 1-0 pitches like tonight. It cost me.

"If you get ahead, you pitch a whole lot better. I didn’t do that tonight to the seven and eight hitters. That’s huge. I can’t be going out there going 1-0 and throwing breaking balls right after that."

A.J. Pollock hit Arizona’s fourth home run of the night, a two-run blast off Corey Knebel in the ninth to give the Diamondbacks insurance at 7-4. It was the first time the Diamondbacks hit four home runs on the road since Sept. 8, 2012.

"We know this ballpark is going to give up home runs," Counsell said. "We still have to do a better job preventing them. No doubt about it."

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