Brewers toss second straight shutout
Suppan, four relievers backed by Fielder's two homers
ATLANTA -- The Brewers' pitching staff may be reluctant to leave Atlanta on Sunday evening after their series finale with the Braves. For the second straight night, the Brewers held the Braves scoreless, this time behind gritty efforts from starter Jeff Suppan and four relievers.
Prince Fielder hit a pair of solo home runs to lead the Brewers' offense as Milwaukee clinched a series win at Turner Field for the third consecutive time with a 3-0 victory on Saturday. The Brewers have now won eight of their past 11 against the Braves. The win moved the Brewers two games ahead of the Cardinals in the National League Central standings.
"Suppan threw some good pitches when he needed to," said Brewers manager Ken Macha. "I thought our defense was pretty helpful tonight, too."
Suppan continued his recent good work against the Braves, battling through 5 1/3 innings of shutout ball. He left with two runners on and one out in the sixth, but Todd Coffey and Mitch Stetter ended the threat with strikeouts to Martin Prado and Kelly Johnson, respectively. Carlos Villanueva pitched a perfect eighth, and Trevor Hoffman worked a scoreless ninth for his 15th save of the season.
Suppan's effort followed eight shutout innings by Yovani Gallardo on Friday. The Brewers pitching staff has rebounded nicely after a rough previous trip through their rotation.
"Yesterday is over and I had to go out and make my pitches," Suppan said. "I had to go out there and take it pitch-by-pitch. For the most part I was able to execute my pitches."
The Brewers got runs in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings to support the pitching effort. Fielder launched his 14th homer of the season in the fifth off Braves starter Javier Vazquez, who took the loss. Craig Counsell added an RBI double in the sixth, and Fielder added another solo home run in the seventh. It was Fielder's third multihomer game of the season and the 15th of his career.
"I was just trying to get good pitches I could get the barrel on," Fielder said. "I don't go up there looking for anything. If it's in a good area, I try to swing."
Fielder also made a key defensive play for the Brewers in the sixth. Braves catcher Brian McCann lifted a fly ball to deep left, but left fielder Ryan Braun lost the ball in the lights and it dropped in behind him for a leadoff triple.
Braves left fielder Garret Anderson followed with a hard ground ball to first, and McCann broke for home. Rather than take the sure out at first, Fielder fired home to catcher Jason Kendall to throw out McCann and keep the Braves off the scoreboard.
"That was an aggressive play," Macha said. "It's a good play if the guy is out. It's like a fade-away three-pointer from the corner in basketball."
Suppan also got defensive help in the fifth on a shrewd play from right fielder Corey Hart. After Yunel Escobar hit a one-out single, Nate McLouth blooped a ball into shallow right. Hart ran and made it seem as if he were about to catch the ball, which froze Escobar between first and second. When the ball dropped in front of Hart, he threw it to second base to erase Escobar for the second out.
Suppan has now allowed just four earned runs in his last 26 1/3 innings pitched against Atlanta. The right-hander labored through 57 pitches in the first three innings, but settled in to hold the Braves offense in check. The only extra-base hit he allowed was the triple to McCann.
"You can always look back and find streaks," Suppan said. "I just look at this game. You have to make pitches regardless. They're a competitive team and they give you tough at-bats."
The Brewers bullpen delivered another clutch performance. After Coffey struck out Prado with runners on first and second in the sixth, he walked pinch-hitter Greg Norton to load the bases. Macha called on the left-handed Stetter to face the left-handed Johnson. Stetter responded with a three-pitch strikeout of the Braves' second baseman.
Villanueva pitched a dominant eighth, recording two strikeouts. Hoffman came on the ninth to record his NL-leading 15th save.
"They're throwing the ball very well," Suppan said. "I think Hoffman has set the tone down there. With experience, you get knowledge. With that, you get awareness, and I think they have the awareness to go out there and make pitches."
Brewers center fielder Mike Cameron was ejected in the top of the ninth for arguing balls and strikes with home-plate umpire Marvin Hudson. During the course of the argument, Cameron's helmet appeared to come in contact with Hudson's hat.
"I just walked away and told him it wasn't a strike and he said something to me," Cameron said. "I just snapped. But I didn't move. He walked into me. I said my piece where I was standing."
Adam Rosenberg is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.