MVP: America (1.776); also Rickie Weeks (.212)
LVP: Canada (boo); also Parra (-.323)
Handed a one-run lead and a chance to make this the happiest Fourth of July this year, Ninth Inning Relief Pitcher* John Axford continued his rapid and distressing descent into mediocrity, ceding a two-out, two-strike tater to Gaby Sanchez, who came into the game hitting .194 and slugging a robust .283. Ax caught way too much of the plate with a 1-2 fastball, and Sanchez deposited the pitch into the right-field bleachers to tie the game at 6. That spoiled the late-game heroics of Aramis Ramirez, who had singled home Nori Aoki in the bottom of the seventh to give the Crew a 6-5 lead.
The Marlins had tied the game at 5 in the top of the seventh thanks to Ron Roenicke's pregame decision that Randy Wolf was pitching seven innings, come hell (likely on this 100-degree day), high water (unlikely), or frogs raining from the sky. Runnin' Ron stuck to his promise, leaving Wolf in to melt down in the seventh and gack away a 5-1 lead: Wolf gave up a homer to Justin Ruggiano to open the frame, then gave up a single and a walk before pinch hitter Logan Morrison demolished a 1-0 meatball to knot the game at 5. Thanks to that ugly frame, Wolf's ERA remains at a grisly 5.83 for the year.
The Brewers did all their damage against Marlins starter Josh Johnson in the second inning, working the big right-hander for three walks (one with the bases loaded), three singles, an RBI groundout from Ryan Braun and a botched double play ball. Thanks to that big inning, Johnson only lasted five innings, giving up five earned on six hits and three walks while striking out just two.
Manny Parra was forced into action in the tenth inning and responded ... well, like Manny Parra: retiring the first two hitters, giving up a booming double to Donovan Solano and a game-winning RBI single to Hanley Ramirez. The Brewers threw a scare into Ninth Inning Relief Pitcher Heath Bell in the tenth when Rickie Weeks doubled with one down, but he was stranded when Marty Maldonado struck out and Taylor Green tapped out to shortstop.
To end things on a bright note: I had a brat and a Hebrew National hot dog today and they were delicious. Also America is awesome and I'm going to watch Independence Day now.
The Brewers and Marlins wrap up this four-game series at 1:10 p.m. tomorrow. It's really dry at Miller Park, so TEHFIERS should be raging. Mark Buerhle pitches for the Fish, and I don't have anything clever to say about that.
* Permit me a brief rant: I've decided I'm not using the term "closer" anymore, and here's why you shouldn't, either: closers aren't things. Using a term like "closer" implies some special kind of skill set unique to specific subset of relief pitchers. Maybe this was true when the term was first coined, but it certainly isn't the case anymore. John Axford isn't a closer, much in the way that Mike Fetters, Mike DeJean, Curt Leskanic, Derrick Turnbow, Dan Kolb, and Salomon Torres weren't closers. They're just relief pitchers who happened to pitch the ninth inning.