MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers' Takashi Saito is relieved to be focusing on pitching and not the myriad of little injuries that marred his first half.Saito worked a perfect ninth inning Tuesday for his fourth win in 16 relief appearances since returning from the disabled list. Saito spent most of the first three months of the season sidelined by hamstring, rib cage and shoulder issues. He beat the Dodgers, the team that imported Saito from Japan in 2006. "Whenever I'm pitching, I don't think about injuries, even though all of my injuries have happened while pitching," Saito said through his interpreter, Kosuke Inaji. "Right now, I feel great," Saito said. He's proven it over the past week. Partly because Saito is the bullpen's veteran at 41 years old, and partly because his season has been dogged by injuries, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke resisted using him on back-to-back days until Sunday, when Saito worked around a pair of 10th-inning walks to preserve 1-1 tie with the Pirates that turned into a 2-1 Brewers win. After getting Monday off, Saito was again effective against the Dodgers on Tuesday, when the Brewers really needed him. Closer John Axford was off-limits after pitching three days in a row, and setup man Francisco Rodriguez was out with continued stiffness in his legs. "I've been telling them for a while that I'm ready whenever he needs me," Saito said. "It's seemed that they were being a little cautious." Now he's a key part of a Brewers bullpen on a roll. Milwaukee's relievers entered Wednesday with a 1.60 ERA over the team's last 28 games, lowering the group's ERA from 4.12 to 3.63. Saito's inning extended the bullpen's scoreless streak to 18 2/3 innings. He laughed when presented with the idea that his return to health figured in the relief corps' recent surge. "I don't know whether I was a big contributing factor, but I know having Rodriguez there was a big help," Saito said. "I've been lucky that all of the bullpens I've been a part of have been amazing bullpens, and this one is right up there. This one is special."
Brewers' Hairston gaining regular role
MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers are searching for production at second base while waiting for Rickie Weeks' left ankle to heal, and it appears the latest opportunity belongs to Jerry Hairston Jr.Hairston, hitting just .182 (6-for-33) in his first 12 games since a trade from the Nationals, started a second straight game against a right-handed pitcher on Wednesday. He got the nod at second base over slumping switch-hitter Felipe Lopez. "When I see good games out of [Hairston], I want to put him out there," Roenicke said. "I don't want to say he's going to be there for a week or something. As long as I see things that I like and the coaches are liking him, yeah, [he will play]." Lopez is 8-for-42 since joining the Brewers with no extra-base hits. It's not for lack of opportunity; he started four straight games after the trade and nine of the Brewers' first 10 games after his arrival. Hairston, despite his forgettable batting average, has impressed his new coaches. He's proven to be a "plus" defender in the outfield, Roenicke said, and has been adequate at second base. "He's got energy that I like," Roenicke said. As for Weeks, "He's got a ways to go," Roenicke said. "There's a big difference between swinging a bat, swinging off a tee, catching ground balls coming at you, and really having to run and make breaks. He's doing great, but there's still a ways to go."
Gomez inching toward return
MILWAUKEE -- Injured Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez cleared another milestone Wednesday in his return from a fractured collarbone, when he took 25 "dry" swings and 25 more swings off a tee.Brewers manager Ron Roenicke predicted a cautious approach with Gomez, who must wait for the bone to fully heal before he's cleared to play. Gomez was hurt on a diving catch July 20 and subsequently underwent surgery to install a metal plate designed to speed the healing process. "It hasn't healed 100 percent yet, so to let him come out and swing 100 percent isn't smart yet," Roenicke said. "Plus, he's a headfirst slider. That concerns me until that thing is healed completely, whether it's three weeks or whatever the timetable is. ... We'll keep him back more than he probably he [wants]." The Brewers still believe Gomez could be ready for a rehab assignment before Minor League seasons end in the first week of September.
Setup man Francisco Rodriguez was ready to return to action on Wednesday after missing three games with stiffness in his legs.
A pair of Brewers community events had already raised nearly $100,000 through Tuesday, with more programs scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday.
Brewers general manager Doug Melvin and his wife, Ellen, raised $68,000 for a breast cancer charity on Sunday night at their "Pink Tie Guy" event. On Tuesday, the club raised another $28,000 via the Brewers Community Foundation "Ultimate Auction," which included a chance to coach first base in a Spring Training game and private pitching and hitting lessons from Brewers coaches Rick Kranitz and Dale Sveum.
Right-hander Wily Peralta, one of Milwaukee's top pitching prospects, struck out nine batters over seven scoreless innings to lead the Triple-A Nashville Sounds to a 4-0 victory over Tucson on Wednesday. Peralta allowed only three hits and did not walk a batter in winning for the second time in as many starts since a promotion from Double-A.