Brewers come back, then walk off in win
Hall sets table in ninth with broken-bat single off bench
MILWAUKEE -- A walk-off win on Tuesday night did not make erstwhile Brewers starter Bill Hall any less peeved about the team's new third base timeshare. But at least it gave him a reason to smile.Hall came off the bench and sparked the game-winning rally in the opener of a nine-day Brewers homestand, scoring from third on Mike Cameron's sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth inning for a 3-2 win over the Braves at Miller Park. J.J. Hardy drove in the Brewers' other two runs as the team overcame an early 2-0 deficit and won for just the fifth time in 13 games. "I tell you what, that was the most emotion I've had playing the game in a long time," Hall said. "Maybe that's what I needed." It was what the Brewers needed, too, after a 4-6 road trip that included nearly as many roster moves and lineup tweaks as it did games. Hall, a right-handed batter who has slumped against right-handed pitching, was at the center of one of the more-talked-about moves on the trip when he slipped into a platoon at third base with lefty-swinger Russell Branyan. Before Tuesday's game, Hall again went public with his displeasure. But Hall was hitting .158 against right-handed pitchers entering play Tuesday, so manager Ned Yost left him on the bench against Braves ace Tim Hudson, who was tough over eight innings. The Brewers rallied late, getting an RBI single to center from Hardy in the seventh inning and another in the eighth that glanced off Hudson's right foot and fell safely in front of second base while Prince Fielder, who started things with a two-out single, scored the tying run. Hall advanced to second on a perfect sacrifice bunt by Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks, then stole third with Cameron at the plate sitting on a 3-0 count. Cameron was unable to check his swing on the next pitch as the count ran full, but he lifted the next offering to medium left-center field. Hall watched the flight of the ball and poised to break for home.
"With one out and the game on the line, that's a no brainer," third base coach Dale Sveum said.
Rookie left fielder Gregor Blanco made the catch and Hall bolted, reaching for the plate as the baseball squirted away from catcher Brian McCann.
Center fielder Omar Infante made the catch and Hall bolted, reaching for the plate as the baseball squirted away from catcher Brian McCann."At first I thought I was going to maybe try to knock the ball loose," Hall said. "But he kind of spread his stance once the ball was coming and I was close enough to the plate where I could stick my hand in. I think I would have been safe whether [McCann] caught it or not." Hall insisted this was not about redemption. It was more simple than that. "I want to play," he reiterated after the game. "If you're a baseball player and don't want to play, I don't know what you're doing in this clubhouse or any other clubhouse." Salomon Torres (4-1) picked up the win in relief for Milwaukee, but just as encouraging were the seven innings of work from starter Dave Bush, who pitched that deep into a game for the first time this season and limited the Braves to a pair of solo home runs. Atlanta second baseman Kelly Johnson homered off Bush in the first inning and Blanco hit his first career home run in the second to back Hudson, who was charged with two runs on 11 hits in eight innings. After Blanco's homer, Bush hit his stride, facing one batter more than the minimum through the end of the seventh. He surrendered two earned runs on six hits with an intentional walk and three strikeouts. "I'm just working at it, trying to get right, a little bit of everything." Bush said. "I'm just trying to get the feel back, trying to get comfortable. It comes and goes a little bit, but I've been feeling more and more comfortable out there. I'm more confident in what I'm doing." The Brewers continued their years-long trend of winning home games. They are 12-9 at Miller Park and 13-18 everywhere else this season after going 51-30 and 32-49 last year. Do things happen at home that do not happen elsewhere? "Our record says so," Bush said. "I'm not sure exactly why. Tonight was a good example of just doing the things we needed to do to win. We battled against a very good pitcher." Hardy's night was a perfect example. He went 3-for-4 and only hit one ball out of the infield. Hudson, who provides a steady diet of two-seam fastballs, had something to do with that. "He's one of the best in the game and when he throws that sinker it's hard to really elevate," Hardy said. "You try to hit it hard and hope you don't hit it to someone." Or at someone, as was the case with the tying single that glanced off Hudson's foot. It was another instance of the Brewers getting a good break on their home turf. "It doesn't make any sense to me," Hardy said. "I can't explain it. I don't know what it is. It could be we're just comfortable playing here."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.