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MIL@ARI Gm 3: Roenicke on the loss to D-backs

PHOENIX -- The baseball had just left the bat when Brewers pitcher Shaun Marcum tossed his glove high in the air. He knew it. The National League Division Series was not over yet.

A pair of rookies proved these D-backs still have bite, funky right-hander Josh Collmenter providing the shut-down start and first baseman Paul Goldschmidt the game-sealing grand slam in an 8-1 Brewers loss Tuesday night.

Milwaukee still leads the best-of-five series 2-1. Game 4 is Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. CT on TBS, and Randy Wolf will start for the Brewers.

"It's not a 'do or die' game," manager Ron Roencike said. "We need to come out and play a solid game, but it's certainly not 'do or die.'"

Goldschmidt's slam -- the first by an Arizona rookie in the playoffs -- powered a five-run fifth inning that knocked Marcum from a forgettable postseason debut. Marcum's disgusted glove toss was the final act of a 4 2/3-inning, seven-hit, seven-run performance that lent further credence to the notion that the heaviest workload of his career may be taking a toll.

Both Roenicke and Marcum declined that notion, saying Marcum simply missed with a fastball that was supposed to be inside off the plate, but instead grooved right down the middle.

"I definitely think this is one of those things that can build some momentum," Arizona closer J.J. Putz said, "and we need the momentum right now."

Momentum came in the form of Collmenter, the 25-year-old right-hander with an extreme overhand delivery who baffled the Brewers over 14 scoreless innings in the regular season and gave them even more trouble Tuesday.

He allowed only two hits over seven stellar innings, burned only by Corey Hart's home run leading off the third. The middle of the Brewers' batting order -- Nyjer Morgan, Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks -- was a combined 0-for-9 in their at-bats against Collmenter.

He faced only one jam, in the first inning when Braun drew a two-out walk and Fielder was struck by a cut fastball. Collmenter struck out Weeks on four pitches.

"That's what the coaching staff is asking ourselves: 'Why is this guy so tough?'" Roenicke said. "We haven't hit him three games now. Just two hits off him [tonight], and we didn't square up too many other balls. ... There's something about that deception on that fastball, [and] the changeup is very good. It's down in the zone, always, and he's got great motion on it."

That sounds a lot like Marcum, though the Brewers' control specialist did not fare as well in the bottom of the first, when a booming RBI double by Miguel Montero and an RBI single by Goldschmidt -- both with two outs -- gave the D-backs more hits with a runner in scoring position over the span of four pitches than they had in all 18 innings of Games 1 and 2 in Milwaukee.

Montero's RBI single in the third inning made it 3-1 into the fifth, when Collmenter sparked the game's decisive scoring outburst with a single to right field. Pesky leadoff man Willie Bloomquist followed with another hit, and when Marcum retired the next two hitters, including Justin Upton on a comebacker that might have offered a double-play opportunity had Marcum not bobbled it, Roenicke was left with a choice:

Pitch to Montero, who already had two hits and two RBIs, or walk him to load the bases for 24-year-old rookie Goldschmidt, who was swinging for the fences in Double-A Mobile until Aug. 1.

Roenicke opted for his least-favorite strategy, the intentional walk. He'd been burned on a similar call against the Phillies on Sept. 9, when a free pass to Ryan Howard extended an inning for two Philadelphia runs in what turned into a two-run Milwaukee loss.

The Brewers pitcher then? Marcum.

On Tuesday, facing Goldschmidt in a 1-2 count, Marcum grooved his 87-mph fastball, and Goldschmidt slammed it over the right-field wall for the first postseason grand slam by a rookie since the Yankees' Ricky Ledee went deep in Game 4 of the 1999 American League Championship Series.

That made it 7-1, and the D-backs added an unearned run in the inning against reliever Kameron Loe.

Why do intentional walks seem to bite the Brewers?

"It bites us because we make bad pitches," Roenicke said.

But the manager stood by his decision, citing the quality of Montero's first two at-bats in the game and the quality of his regular season, which included 18 home runs and 86 RBIs.

Marcum indicated displeasure with the call, saying, "It wasn't my decision. [Pitching coach Rick Kranitz] came out and said we were going to put him on; that's what we did. It backfired on us a little bit."

For that, Marcum took the blame.

"It was a mistake pitch, and that's what hitters are supposed to do with mistake pitches," he said.

Marcum is finishing the season on a down note, raising legitimate questions about the workload for a pitcher who missed all of 2009 following Tommy John surgery on his elbow, then jumped right back in with 195 1/3 innings for Toronto in 2010 and a career-high 200 2/3 innings for Milwaukee in '11. After allowing no earned runs in consecutive seven-inning starts on Aug. 30 and Sept. 4, Marcum has now surrendered at least five earned runs in four of his last five outings, including Tuesday.

Marcum said there was no reason for concern, arguing that much of the damage in those previous starts came on bloops and well-placed grounders.

"I actually felt better today than I have for the last month or so," he said. "I'm a location guy; if I miss location, I'm going to get hit. That happened today."

Collmenter pitched the seventh inning before relievers David Hernandez and Putz finished the game. The D-backs snapped a six-game postseason losing streak.

"You get caught up in being so serious and so anxious all the time," D-backs third baseman Ryan Roberts said, "that whenever you finally get some runs and put everything together, pitching- and hitting-wise, and get a lead, it makes it fun."

The Brewers' clubhouse was quiet, but Morgan was among those still smiling.

"We're a confident unit here," he said. "It's just one of those things where we took a nice little butt-whooping there, but we'll come back [Wednesday] and we'll be ready to go." Comments