Brewers fall, but in unhistoric fashion
Kapler's solo shot in eighth spoils Young's bid for perfection
MILWAUKEE -- When Detroit Tigers hurler Justin Verlander threw a no-hitter against Milwaukee on June 12, 2007, the Brewers responded by winning 11 of their next 14 games and 19 of 29.
That doesn't mean the no-hitter experience was one the Brewers wanted to relive.
Gabe Kapler's home run with two outs in the eighth inning on Sunday broke up Chris Young's bid for a perfect game and salvaged to some degree an otherwise-humbling day at Miller Park that saw the San Diego Padres dish out a 10-1 thumping, handing the Brewers their fifth loss in seven games on the current homestand.
Young finished with a complete game, throwing 96 pitches and allowing two hits. The first came with just four outs to go in what would have been the 18th perfect game in baseball history.
"We prefer to not have them celebrate something like that -- a perfect game or a no-hitter -- on our field," Kapler said. "It's gratifying that it didn't happen, but that said, it wasn't a good game. We didn't play well -- we didn't play good defense, we didn't swing the bats well and we didn't pitch."
Bad Brewers defense led to a rough outing for starter Manny Parra, with Brewers reliever David Riske throwing plenty of fuel on the fire. By then, however, the game was about Young, making his second appearance since being activated from a lengthy disabled list stint with a nasal fracture.
"It was just one of those days where things went my way," Young said. "They hit some balls hard, right at guys. Guys made good defensive plays. Nick Hundley did an unbelievable job calling the game. I followed his lead. I think one of the three times I shook him [off], I gave up a home run. So I've learned my lesson."
Young said his rookie catcher called a slider on the pitch Kapler hit over the left-field wall, but Young wanted to challenge his opponent with a heater.
"The guy pitched a great baseball game, and our job was to battle through all the way to the end," Kapler said. "I don't think anybody approached those last couple innings differently than they did the first couple innings. Those at-bats toward the end of the game got tougher and tougher, because he developed more and more confidence and it was getting more difficult so see."
Milwaukee scored just seven runs in the four-game series with the Padres, who came to Miller Park 33 games below .500. They also produced a Sunday lineup of mostly unknowns, including three September callups, a rookie shortstop hitting .067 and the rookie catcher Hundley.
"Baseball is not meant to be looked at in a nutshell, not meant to be looked at in a period of four, five [or] six games," said Kapler. "It's meant to be looked at over the long haul. That's why we have batting averages. That's why we have ERA. Statistics are special in baseball because they tell a story over a long period of time. Over a short period of time, it doesn't make a lot of sense to analyze it."
In the long term, Milwaukee's lead in the Wild Card standings drooped to 3 1/2 games, pending the outcome of Philadelphia's doubleheader finale against the New York Mets on Sunday. The Chicago Cubs lost late in Cincinnati and remained four games ahead in the National League Central.
The Brewers, who showed some flashy leather in Saturday's 1-0 victory, exhibited porous defense in the third inning. A J.J. Hardy misplay put runners at first and second with one out, and after Chip Ambres walked, Kevin Kouzmanoff hit a slow bouncer that caromed off of Bill Hall into foul territory. What could have been an inning-ending double play scored two runs and opened the floodgates for a five-run rally.
"Billy just took his eye off it for a split second to find the bag, and then it got by him," Brewers manager Ned Yost said.
Parra said he remained confident he could get his team out of the jam without further damage, despite the miscues.
"I think I held my emotions in check, so I feel like I did all I could do," Parra said. "It's just a matter of time, I think [before the offense breaks loose]. Every day, we expect to be the team we've been all year, the team that scores a bunch of runs and gives us a chance to win."
Parra sparkled out of the gate, needing just 18 pitches to negotiate two scoreless innings. But thanks in part to the defensive miscues behind him, he threw 37 pitches in the third, permitting four hits and two walks. None of the runs he allowed, however, were earned, until Chase Headley homered with one out in the fifth.
Riske allowed four runs in the seventh, including a home run to Kouzmanoff and two warning-track sacrifice flies. One of those came from Young, who also had a double in the game.
Young also had a pretty good day on the hill, of course. He allowed Mat Gamel's first Major League hit -- a ringing double -- in the ninth, but finished with no walks and five strikeouts.
Milwaukee (82-61) will welcome the Cincinnati Reds for a three-game series on Monday.
JR Radcliffe is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.