Brewers fall to Phils; WC lead cut to one
Yost sticks with Shouse, who gives up four runs in eighth
PHILADELPHIA -- Brewers manager Ned Yost insisted he had the matchup he desired.He did not get the desired result. Yost defied the numbers, and the Phillies rallied against reliever Brian Shouse for four runs in the eighth inning and rolled to a 7-3 win in Game 1 of a doubleheader Sunday at Citizens Bank Park. With wins in each of the first three games of the series, the Phillies moved to within one game of the Brewers' National League Wild Card lead with a chance to pull even in the nightcap. "I thought Shouse could get the job done," Yost said between games. Instead, Pat Burrell hit a go-ahead single against Shouse and Shane Victorino followed with a three-run home run, his first homer since Aug. 5. The Brewers fell to 3-10 in a September that began with them sitting 5 1/2 games atop the Wild Card standings. The Phillies had already erased a 3-1 Brewers lead to forge a tie on Ryan Howard's Major League-leading 44th home run, a two-run shot off Dave Bush in the sixth inning. Guillermo Mota (5-6) relieved Bush and preserved the 3-3 tie in a scoreless seventh inning, but surrendered a leadoff single to Jayson Werth in the eighth. That prompted Yost to call for lefty specialist Shouse to face Phillies sluggers Chase Utley and Howard. Utley surprised Yost, "a little bit," by dropping a sacrifice bunt that essentially took the bat out of the hands of red-hot Howard, who was hitting .407 during an eight-game hitting streak. With runners at first and second base and Burrell coming up, Yost faced a critical decision. Entering the game, Burrell was hitting .261 against left-handed pitchers and .246 against righties. The switch-hitting Victorino's splits were even (.278 against both left-handers and right-handers) but he was slightly better batting left-handed (.278; versus .272). But Shouse's splits were the ones that stood out: At that moment, he had held left-handed hitters to a .175 average this season while right-handers hit .270. Right-hander Eric Gagne was warm in the bullpen, but Yost stayed with Shouse. "It was more based on Brian Shouse and his ground ball ability," Yost said. "He did get the ground ball, it was just right in the hole." Burrell's single went through the hole between third base and shortstop. Left fielder Ryan Braun's throw home was ahead of the runner, but it drew catcher Jason Kendall slightly off the plate and Werth scored. Yost felt more comfortable with Shouse than his right-handed options. Mota had been his most reliable late-inning reliever and was already out of the game. Opponents were hitting .333 against Gagne this month. David Riske has been battling elbow discomfort and had a cortisone shot last week. Seth McClung and Carlos Villanueva both pitched Saturday after starter Manny Parra lasted just 1 1/3 innings, and Villanueva in particular was deemed unavailable. "With all the pitching we used [Saturday], I was hoping we could get through that inning [with Shouse]," Yost said. "Then, if we didn't score, I would have Gagne in the ninth inning and be set up before I had to use [Salomon] Torres." Two pitches after Burrell's hit, Victorino tacked on three more runs with a home run that carried to the left-center-field seats. "We just need to get a couple of breaks here or there to get us going again," Shouse said. "We'll see what happens the next game. We're going to come out ready to go again." Game 2 was scheduled to start about three hours after Game 1 ended. "We need to come out of here with a victory, somehow," Shouse said. "It's disappointing right now. We're a good team and we've got the right people here. Teams go through this; unfortunately, we're going through this right now." Neither starting pitcher figured in the decision. Bush was charged with three runs on five hits in six innings, and he was burned by Howard, who homered on a quality breaking ball low in the strike zone after Bush hit Utley with a pitch. Phillies right-hander Joe Blanton allowed three runs on five Brewers hits in seven innings. Ray Durham hit a two-run home run in the first inning and Mike Cameron hit a long solo shot in the fifth as the Brewers built a 3-1 lead on Blanton. In hindsight, a key moment may have come in the top of the sixth, when Craig Counsell drew a walk that extended the frame for the pitcher's spot. With Bush at 81 pitches, Yost used pinch-hitter Tony Gwynn Jr. and then turned to Mota in the seventh. Had Bush's spot not come up, he might have gone back to pitch the seventh inning. That might have left Mota in the bullpen as an option to face Burrell in the eighth. "That's part of being in the National League," Bush said.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.