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"One Big Inning" Dooms Brewers In 8-4 Loss To Rays

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W: Jeff Niemann (2-4)
L: Chris Narveson (4-5)

HR: Jonathan Lucroy (7), Evan Longoria (6)

MVP: Casey McGehee (+.121)
LVP: Mark Kotsay (-.184)

Win Expectancy Graph and Star of the Game Voting

And the meltdown inning claims another victim.

Through six innings tonight the Brewers and Rays were locked in a pitchers' duel, with the Rays leading 1-0. Unfortunately, things were not destined to remain that way. As he has done several times this season, Narveson allowed the opponent to put the game out of reach with one big inning in the seventh as the Rays batted around and scored four runs. All told, Narveson allowed four runs on five hits and three walks over 6.2 innings, striking out six.

That was all the Rays needed, as they held the Brewers nearly scoreless tonight. Jeff Niemann, pitching in the majors for the first time in over a month, shut the Brewers out for six innings and the Rays bullpen took it from there.

That Rays bullpen, by the way, briefly featured one of the more bizarre moments we've seen this season. Entering the bottom of the eighth leading 8-1, the Rays didn't have a pitcher ready and sent outfielder Sam Fuld to the mound to warm up. Fuld was removed from the game before facing a batter and Cesar Ramos took his place. 

In other notes:

  • Ryan Braun was a late scratch from tonight's game with a "viral upper respiratory infection." Mark Kotsay started in his place and went 0-for-4.
  • Ron Roenicke and Dale Sveum were ejected in the sixth inning for arguing the call when home plate umpire Bob Davidson ruled Nyjer Morgan hadn't done enough to get out of the way of a pitch that hit him. I'll have more on that later.
  • Jonathan Lucroy, who entered the game hitting .151/.193/.170 with no home runs in June, hit a solo home run in the seventh inning to plate the Brewers' first run.
  • LaTroy Hawkins allowed a hit but nothing else in the ninth to extend his scoreless streak to 18.1 innings.
  • Tonight's game was played in a neat-and-tidy 3:38, making it the second longest nine inning game the Brewers have played all season. The only longer game was a 3:44, 14-7 loss to the Astros on April 22.
The Cardinals were off tonight, so they'll take a half game lead in the NL Central going into play tomorrow.