Braun's brawn not enough for Brewers
Bullpen handed lead, but falters against Mets at Citi Field
NEW YORK -- Even though the Brewers opened a tough nine-game road trip with a loss that will be documented in baseball's record books, there were few regrets in the quiet visitors' clubhouse at Citi Field on Friday night.
The Brewers were eventually beaten, 5-4, in a game in which veteran slugger Gary Sheffield tied it in the seventh with the 500th home run of his career.
"We're playing well," Brewers manager Ken Macha said. "If we keep playing the way we are, we'll start winning."
Starter David Bush took the mound with a 6.14 ERA and gave up hits to the first three Mets he faced. The right-hander was in a 3-0 hole before he struck out Mets starter Livan Hernandez to end the long first inning.
But Bush settled after that and gave the slumbering Milwaukee offense a chance to get back in the game. And it did, scoring a run in the fifth inning and three more on Ryan Braun's first home run of the season to take a 4-3 lead in the sixth.
Asked if he could take a positive home to sleep on, Bush said, "After the first inning, I was able to keep it there and give us a chance to swing the bat, let our offense go to work."
But Bush wasn't happy with a brief sequence of events that took place after the first three Mets singled to load the bases and Carlos Delgado, who was also a hero in the bottom of the ninth, hit a long sacrifice fly to the warning track in left-center.
Bush struck out the dangerous Carlos Beltran and Macha had Bush walk Ryan Church intentionally -- but Bush wasn't supposed to walk weak-hitting catcher Ramon Castro, which forced home the second run. Luis Castillo, who delivered home the game-winner on an almost identical hit in the ninth, grounded a single to deep short to get the third run home.
"Two of the runs could have been avoided," Macha said. "Other than that, he comes out and pitches five shutout innings."
Bush acknowledged: "The worst was the walk after the intentional walk."
Bush walked just one and gave up three hits over the next five shutout innings.
But after the Brewers took the lead, up stepped Sheffield, who had begun his career with Milwaukee at the age of 18, to lead off the seventh inning as a pinch-hitter.
Lefty reliever Mitch Stetter battled Sheffield for eight pitches. On the ninth, the slugger ripped a fastball down the left-field line for No. 500, and the score was tied at 4.
"I'd much rather have Sheffield coming up leading off an inning than with two or three guys on," Macha said. "When you aren't commanding the ball, which [Stetter] wasn't, it doesn't matter who's at the plate."
Stetter said he wasn't upset with the pitch he threw Sheffield.
"I went with a fastball, I tried to go in hard maybe and at least get it a little in off the plate, even though it was 3-2," Stetter said. "He did a good job. It was inside. He has a pretty quick bat and did a good job of keeping it fair."
The Mets' bullpen stalled the Crew's offense after the sixth, and Delgado greeted Seth McClung with a hard leadoff double to left-center to start the bottom of the ninth. Beltran struck out and Church, again, was walked intentionally. Omir Santos, who had just arrived from the Minors before the game, grounded into a force play that moved Delgado to third. Then, for the second time in the contest, Castillo delivered a hit to deep short. This time, his hit decided the game.
"He hit the ball on the ground," McClung said. "There's nothing more you can do. You try to make a pitch you know they are going to beat on the ground somewhere, and give your guys a chance to make a play on it. I threw it, and he hit it."
Did McClung have any regrets about his effort?
"Not one thing," he said.
Kit Stier is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.