The Brewers dug themselves an early hole tonight, collectively allowing the Phillies to take a 6-0 lead after 4 innings. Jimmy Nelson didn't have good location, and the defense made some poor plays that extended innings - and the Phillies accepted the gifts and scored runs.
There were good defensive plays in the first four innings - Domingo Santana threw out Odubel Herrera at home in the first after a single by Tommy Joseph with two down (it wasn't close); Ryan Braun made a leaping catch at the wall on a drive by Cody Asche in the second; Scooter Gennett stopped on a dime on a groundball while going to cover second on a steal attempt in the third, diving back to snare the ball and get Andres Blanco at first; and Jonathon Villar threw out Cesar Hernandez on a slow roller to start the fourth. But in the third and fourth the Brewers made mental errors that greatly advanced the Phillies offense.
In the third, Ryan Braun took a bad route on a soft liner that turned into an RBI single for Maikel Franco. It would have ended the inning; the Phils scored one on that single and added another. Cameron Rupp had led off the inning with a homerun, taking a 2-0 pitch into the right centerfield seats.
In the fourth, a one out single into left center was turned into a double when Rupp tried to stretch it and Gennett missed the tag and then failed to keep the ball on the runner. He was originally called out, but it was correctly overturned on appeal. After pitcher Vince Valesquez grounded to third, Herrera drew his third straight walk and Blanco lined a three run homer into the right field seats.
The Phillies were done...literally. Brewer relievers shut them down over the last four innings on no hits and a walk, striking out 5. Most notable was the eighth inning turned in by Jacob Barnes in his major league debut. Barnes retired all three Phillies that he faced, fanning two. A sharp breaking slider and 94-95 mph fastball looked like a great addition to the pen. Tough decisions await the loomig return of Cory Knebel.
The Brewers scored twice in the fifth, chasing Valasquez. Valasquez couldn't finish the fifth; he had shut out the Brewers through four, allowing two singles and striking out 6. But in the fifth, he allowed a single to Aaron Hill, a double to Santana, a four pitch walk to pinch hitter Alex Presley, a sac fly to deep right center to Villar, and a walk to Gennett. As tough as he had looked through three, he looked very vulnerable in the fifth. Phillies manager Pete Mackanin had seen enough and brought in Andrew Bailey. Bailey allowed an RBI ground-out to Braun, but in all retired 5 straight hitters. The Brewers' final run came on Villar's second homer in as many nights (and second as a left handed hitter this year), going the opposite way off of the foul pole off of David Hernandez.
A modicum of hope was given to Brewer fans after two walks to start the top of the eighth (Braun and Lucroy) off of Hector Neris, But Neris enticed a DP grounder to third from Chris Carter, and the final four Brewers made outs to end the game.
Weather permitting, tomorrow afternoon's game has the Brewers (25-30) sending Junior Guerra (3-1) to face the Phillies' (27-28) Jeremy Hellickson (4-3). The Brewers now trail the Phils by two games in the Best Record For A Rebuilding Team (BRFART) standings.