FanShot

Brewers 9, Mariners 7

16

The Cactus League championship will not grace Milwaukee this exhibition season. For today, however, you cannot place the blame upon Macha's men as they gave it their all in a triumph over the visiting Mariners of Seattle. Maryvale Baseball Park was the site of today's titanic clash and the play on the field did not disappoint any in attendance. The Milwaukees showed their hosts a thing or two about how to play the game as good pitching and clutch hitting combined for a hard-fought victory. It was a close-run affair, the Seattle sailors holding the lead into the late innings, but the home team was able to surpass the exertions of their able opponents in striving for the win. The Crew sent Manuel Parra, "Manny" to those in the know, their able young southpaw to the mound to square off against the bespectacled, dual-surnamed Ryan Rowland-Smith. One might say unfamiliarity breeds wariness, or at least one might draw that conclusion from the Brewers bats to start the game. Parra pitched well enough for the win but shoddy defense and those battened-down bats forced him to accept a no-decision. Parra himself cost the Milwaukees a run by misplaying a clever bunt attempt by Seattle lead man Endy Chavez. The fleet-footed Chavez then was plated on a two-bag hit by second sacker Lopez. Three outs in succession kept the game at a manageable 1-0 but the damage was done. The Brewers were set down in turn by Rowland-Smith. The Mariners sent five men to the plate in the second but no runs were forthcoming. Cameron singled in the bottom of that inning for the home team's first hit but it went for naught as support was lacking. The next two innings followed the same plot, the only highlight being a double by once-forgotten, now-known catcher Mike Rivera. Milwaukee's seven-day man Weeks followed with a single but the bogged-down backstop could only reach third on the play. The game entered the fifth inning still at 1-0 in favor of the visitors. Once again, pesky Endy Chavez reached base on a bunt attempt. It appeared he would be marooned on the basepaths by his sailing brethren but Mike Wilson, in the game for the incomparable Ichiro, laced a two-run round-tripper over the left field fence and trebled the lead. The Brewers bats stayed quiet in the bottom of the fifth and Parra kept the Mariners off the board in the top of the next inning. Local rooters know the Milwaukee lineup cannot be held down interminably and the man with as many lenses as names found this out in the bottom of the sixth inning. A double by Weeks started off the turn at bat. Hart hit it hard but at the perpetually penurious Chavez in center. Braun brought Weeks to third with a grounder to the second sacker, but all in the crowd agreed things looked grim. Up to the plate at this pivotal moment stepped stately slugger Prince Fielder. The crowd hushed as the powerful Prince swung mightily at the delivery and erupted in cheers as the ball landed on the far side of the fence beyond first base. The cheering was hardly subdued by Cameron's fly out to end the inning. At this point both starters begged out of the game, their energy sapped by the tremendous pressures of the occasion. Young Carlos Villanueva was thrown into the breach for the Milwaukee nine and he performed wonderfully, allowing only a triple to Chavez, hardly an indictment in today's tussle. Jesus Delgado was the unfortunate Seattle hurler thrust upon the bustling Brewers buzzsaw. In order, Hall singled, Counsell walked, and Rivera drew a base on balls before never-sheepish Lamb sacrificed Hall home and Counsell to third. A Weeks single brought Counsell in and gave the Beermakers their first lead of the contest. Hart and Duffy made outs to end the inning, but it hardly mattered to the excited audience. The game was now placed in the able hands of Mitch Stetter, lefthanded pitcher extraordinaire. He got three Seattle men to ground out, completing the cycle of the infield. Balentien grounded to third, Branyan to second, and Johnson to surely All-City Alcides Escobar at short stop. In the bottom of the inning, Seattle righthander Mark Lowe folded under the pressure, committing an error, throwing two wild pitches, and allowing three runs on three base hits by the hometown club. Feeling confident, the crowd cheered on new Milwaukee pitcher Lindsay Gulin. Unfortunately, an error by Hart in right field to start the inning was a harbinger of disaster. Cedeno and the newly-acquired Burke both singled to draw the game to 7-4. Chavez was finally retired, but not before his fly ball moved Cedeno to third base. Shelton struck out, but Wilson hit his second four-bagger of the game to tie the score at seven and shock the home crowd into silence. Balentien flew out to right field to end the inning where the rally began. Things looked bleak for the home club as momentum had clearly shifted in favor of the players from the Northwest. Messenger took the mound for Seattle and struck out Hart to start the inning. Duffy followed with a walk, breathing some life into the crowd. The stage was then set for spring hero Casey McGehee. After watching two pitched balls go by, he expertly took a strike. Sitting on a 2-1 count, he turned on the next delivery from Messenger and sent his own message clear back to Seattle. The crowd was positively raucous when his home-run ball landed giving the Crew a 9-7 victory! Songs were sung, toasts were made, and official uniforms with McGehee on the back were hurriedly stitched by the Milwaukee equipment manager. Despite the disappointment of not winning the Cactus League, the spirit in the Brewers clubhouse has never been higher and the team will surely continue to give their all tomorrow even without a championship to play for.