08/05/07 8:03 PM ET
Bullpen costs Brewers dearly in finale
Cordero suffers first blown save at home in ugly setback
By Kelvin Ang / MLB.com
"We're not pitching against little kids," Cordero said. "We're pitching against big league hitters. That's the way it is. Sometimes you come in and it's 1-2-3.
"Sometimes you're going to blow the game and the lead."
Still, the Brewers closer had enjoyed a perfect run at Miller Park this season and entered Sunday afternoon's contest 22-for-22 in save opportunities with an 0.30 ERA at home. That streak came to a jarring halt when he and Matt Wise combined to blow a five-run lead in the ninth inning, setting up an 8-6 loss in 11 innings to the Phillies.
Milwaukee wasted the chance to end its homestand with a three-game sweep of Philadelphia and now embark on a six-game road trip to Colorado and Houston on the heels of its worst bullpen collapse of the season.
Road games already haven't been kind to the Brewers' bullpen, dealing it four late-inning losses in seven games on the last trip.
"I look at it for us as a challenge," Brewers manager Ned Yost said. "I'm really kind of embracing going on the road right here, right now. Colorado's playing good, and I kind of look at it as a challenge for us."
Yost considered the Brewers' five-run lead in the ninth a big enough cushion for him to slot Wise into the game, even though the right-hander hasn't been the same pitcher since he hit the Reds' Pedro Lopez in the face with a pitch on the last road trip.
Wise got Greg Dobbs to hit a soft tapper back to the mound leading off the frame, but he couldn't field it cleanly. Wise then hung a changeup to Jayson Werth, who belted a two-run homer to slice Milwaukee's lead to 6-3.
"There's a little bit of timidness, maybe," Wise said. "I'm making baby steps. I'm not going to sit here and say it didn't affect me, but that's just a crutch, really. I'm a professional, and it was a lot better than how I pitched the last two weeks, so enough's enough. It's time to move on."
Cordero then relieved Wise and appeared to have things under control, quickly retiring his first two batters. He lost the strike zone after that, though, loading the bases on two walks and a single.
The hard-throwing closer plunked Ryan Howard on the leg to force in another run, before inducing a grounder from Aaron Roward that squirted under third baseman Ryan Braun's glove into the outfield. The play, which initially was ruled a single but later changed by the official scorer to an error, chased home two more runs to tie the game.
"I should have had it," Braun said. "I think the last hop stayed down or something. I put my glove down. I don't know. I haven't watched [the replay] yet, but it's definitely something I should have made."
Cordero suffered two blown saves and walk-off losses during the last road trip, unable to protect a one-run lead against the Reds on July 26 and then a two-run lead against the Cardinals two days later. He has blown three of his last four save chances and sports a 14.40 ERA in his last five outings (eight earned runs in five innings).
His home ERA swelled from 0.30 to 1.16, and he is now 34-for-40 in save opportunities.
"Nobody's going to be perfect in this game," Cordero said. "I haven't seen one guy who's been perfect all season. This is the way it is, and you've got to face it."
Manny Parra (0-1) entered the game in the 11th and, after getting two quick outs, surrendered a two-run double to former Brewer Wes Helms for the final score.
Phillies closer Brett Myers (2-3) earned the win by pitching 1 1/3 scoreless innings, and Jose Mesa picked up his first save when Milwaukee couldn't cash in on a bases-loaded opportunity in the bottom half of the inning.
"I didn't throw some offspeed pitches for strikes," Parra said about issuing a two-out walk that sparked the decisive rally. "The next two hitters were able to sit fastball. I think they were trying to make me prove I could throw an offspeed pitch for a strike. I didn't do that and paid for it."
The Phillies' rally denied Brewers starter Jeff Suppan the win. The right-hander allowed just one earned run on five hits and a walk in 5 2/3 innings.
Meanwhile, Milwaukee had built a 6-1 lead entering the ninth by battering Phillies starter Adam Eaton for six earned runs in his 4 1/3 innings. Along the way, Braun blasted his 20th home run in his 64th game, becoming the fastest player to that mark since Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols got to 20 in his first 63 games.
But Braun took no consolation from his milestone homer, wishing instead he had helped Cordero secure the save by fielding the two-out grounder.
"It's a tough loss," Wise said. "We'll take our chances 10 times out of 10 with Coco."
Kelvin Ang is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.