Brewers struggle with runners on base
Rookie third baseman Braun hits first Major League homer
SAN DIEGO -- The Brewers don't have much trouble hitting the long ball. Piecing together runs while men are on base has been a bigger issue.Milwaukee got two home runs, including the first career homer from rookie Ryan Braun, but left the bases loaded in the ninth and dropped its fourth straight on Saturday night, falling, 6-3, to the Padres. "We're not doing a real good job of manufacturing runs right now," said Brewers manager Ned Yost. "A lot of our runs are coming from a home run." The Padres and Brewers each left seven runners on base, the difference being that Milwaukee went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position, while the Padres were 4-for-12 in front of a hometown crowd of 35,975 at PETCO Park. San Diego got started early with plating runners in scoring position when center fielder Mike Cameron hit a two-run homer in the first inning, his fourth of the year. It seemed starter Claudio Vargas had settled in, allowing only one run over the next 4 1/3 innings, a homer to Jose Cruz Jr. that led off the third inning. But after a leadoff double to Terrmel Sledge in the sixth and another double to catcher Rob Bowen two batters later, Vargas' night was done. He left the game after 5 1/3 innings, allowing four runs. He struck out five and didn't walk a batter. "Claudio was OK. I didn't think he was great, I didn't think he was bad," Yost said. "He made some mistakes in the first inning that cost him two runs. He kind of battled back and then got a pitch up to Cruz." Vargas, who fell to 3-1 with loss, seemed to see the outing the same way his manager did. "I threw a lot of good pitches that were close to the strike zone, but they didn't swing, and that forced me to try and throw a strike," the right-hander said. "I missed with a couple of pitches up in the zone." On the other side, the Brewers had trouble with Padres starter Justin Germano, who is now 3-0 with a 1.08 ERA. Germano was claimed off waivers from the Phillies in March, and in his four starts with San Diego, now has a better ERA than staff ace Jake Peavy. "I think he was effective because he was able to hit his location and he kept us off-balance. He was consistently getting ahead. He obviously knew how to pitch," said Braun, who now has two Major League games under his belt. Braun was brought up from Triple-A Nashville to the big-league team in hopes he would be a boost to the offense. He went 3-for-4, including his home run to left field in the third inning that tied the score at 2. He also stole the first base of his career after his single led off the sixth inning. "Today was a little bit easier. I got back into my normal routine," Braun said. "Yesterday I think was a little bit overwhelming. For me at this level, individual success means nothing. It's all about winning." The Brewers looked like they were mounting a ninth-inning rally against Padres reliever Doug Brocail after Johnny Estrada and Geoff Jenkins drew walks with one out in the inning. The Padres quickly went to Trevor Hoffman to stop the damage, and he got Bill Hall, the first batter he faced, to line out to right for the second out. A throwing error by Padres third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff allowed Estrada to take third and load the bases. He came home when Hoffman walked Gabe Gross to make it 6-3. But Rickie Weeks popped out in foul territory to end the threat. May has not been kind to the Brewers, who have now lost 11 of their last 15. Yost said he's not concerned with the skid. "I see signs every day. The kids are out there battling, they're fighting and they're not giving up," he said. "If we continue to do that, we'll be in good shape." Jenkins gave Milwaukee its first run of the game in the second inning with a home run. His 10th homer of the year was Jenkins' 201st long ball with the Brewers, tying him for third on the team's all-time list with Cecil Cooper.
Amanda Branam is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.