Long balls can't rescue Crew late in loss
Braun (two homers), Cameron go deep as Braves rally
ATLANTA -- The Brewers came into Sunday hoping for a series sweep of the Braves before heading back to Milwaukee. Through 7 1/2 innings, it looked like they would get their wish.
However, the Braves overcame a two-run deficit in the bottom of the eighth off of reliever Carlos Villanueva to earn an 8-7 victory and prevent the sweep.
"[Villanueva] has been spectacular this year," said Brewers manager Ken Macha. "He's human. No excuses, he just made a couple of bad pitches."
The Braves' comeback wasted a two-home run day from left fielder Ryan Braun, who finished the day with four RBIs. Mike Cameron also hit a two-run homer in the sixth to give the Brewers a 7-5 lead.
The Brewers couldn't muster anything off of Atlanta starter Tommy Hanson their first time through the order. Making his highly-anticipated big league debut, Hanson set down Milwaukee in order the first time through the lineup, striking out four in the process.
In the fourth, though, Milwaukee got its first baserunner when J.J. Hardy reached on an error by Atlanta shortstop Yunel Escobar. Braun followed with his 11th home run of the year to give the Brewers their first hit of the game and tie the score at 2. Braves third baseman Chipper Jones had an RBI triple and a solo home run to give Atlanta an early 2-0 lead.
"It's tough the first time through against a new pitcher because you have to get a feel for his arm angle and what he has," Braun said. "We also wanted to make sure he was going to be throwing strikes because it was his debut and his emotions could have been going crazy. When it was obvious he had good control, we were more aggressive."
In 5 2/3 innings of work, Brewers starter Manny Parra was touched up for five runs on eight hits, including two home runs and a triple by Jones. Jones' RBI triple in the first scored Escobar for Atlanta's first run of the series.
"I thought I threw the ball really well," Parra said. "Except for the first at-bat to Chipper, my pitches were where I wanted them to be. Even the home runs he hit, he hit pitches that I wanted to make. He's a great hitter."
Jones added a three-run home run in the fifth to give the Braves a 5-3 lead. However, Braun answered with his second two-run shot of the game to tie the score. Two batters later, Cameron hit a two-run blast to center to give the Brewers a 7-5 lead.
"At the beginning there it seemed like it was Braun vs. Jones out there," Macha said. "Cameron hit a big one as well. We battled back. We had some good hitting today. When you score seven runs you are usually in a pretty good position to win the game."
Villanueva's rough outing ended a string of 14 2/3 scoreless innings, dating back to May 5. Although he was pitching for the third consecutive day, Villanueva said fatigue wasn't an issue on Sunday.
"Before the game, they asked me how I felt," Villanueva said. "I told them I was good to go. I just wasn't as sharp as I have been. It happens. I'll take the day off on Monday and get ready for the home series."
Martin Prado led off the eighth for the Braves with an infield single. After Kelly Johnson flew out for the first out, Brian McCann belted a pinch-hit double to score Prado and made the score 7-6.
After retiring pinch-hitter Garret Anderson, Villanueva surrendered the game-tying double to Braves center fielder Nate McLouth. Escobar then singled in McLouth to score the eventual game-winning run.
"The bullpen worked a lot this series," Parra said. "They can't save them all."
The Brewers got the leadoff man on in the ninth against Braves closer Mike Gonzalez when Casey McGehee walked. But Jason Kendall hit into a double play to erase McGehee. After hitting Mike Rivera with a pitch, Gonzalez struck out Craig Counsell to end the game.
The loss concludes a 3-4 road trip for the Brewers as they head back to Milwaukee for a series against the Rockies beginning Tuesday. Although they would have felt much better heading into Monday's off-day with a sweep of the Braves on the books, the Brewers know that any series win on the road is a good thing.
"Sure, we wanted to win this game," Parra said. "But we took two of three on the road. That's still a positive."
Adam Rosenberg is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.