05/26/08 6:30 PM ET
Brewers end road trip with good win
Kapler's clutch RBI single lifts Milwaukee over Washington
By Michael Phillips / Special to MLB.com
But on Monday, a team effort helped Milwaukee grind out a 4-3 victory over Washington in 11 innings.
"For some reason, we can't catch a break on the road," Brewers manager Ned Yost said. "This was good, to battle back and win this game."
It took a full team effort, as Gabe Kapler singled home Prince Fielder to score the winning run in the 11th, and Salomon Torres shut the door with the help of the rest of the bullpen, which threw a combined five innings.
"The fact that we all as a unit contributed was good," Torres said. "Any time you do your job and help your team win, that's a good feeling."
The bonus time was necessitated by a Dmitri Young home run in the eighth inning. It was initially ruled a triple, but correctly reversed by the umpires after a discussion.
Nationals manager Manny Acta ran out to consult with the umpires, explaining that the ball hit the concrete behind the wall, and not the padded outfield wall, because of how far the ball bounced after making contact.
In center field, Mike Cameron said he kept doing his job by playing the ball, not knowing how the play would turn out. It was an unexpected situation at the new ballpark, which is less than two months old. Yost was more surprised that reliever Brian Shouse would give up a home run at all.
"He doesn't throw really hard, but he throws a real hard sinker [and] keeps the ball on the ground. It's tough to get a ball in the air," Yost said. "That's why it surprised me that Dmitri Young got one up there. They normally don't do that off of Shouse."
Shouse was one of a handful of Brewers relievers who contributed. Former starter Carlos Villanueva also had a big day, striking out five in two innings of relief.
"He was sharp out of the bullpen all last year," starter Ben Sheets said. "He's had some struggles, but it's nothing he can't correct. He's real strong out of the bullpen."
Sheets was solid as usual in his 200th career start, though he left with a no-decision when he was pinch-hit for in the sixth inning after 86 pitches.
Nationals pitcher Jason Bergmann ran his streak to 19 2/3 innings without allowing a run before leaving in the sixth. Once he left, the Brewers offense warmed up.
Fielder swung for power all day, and Yost noted he "just missed four homers."
In the eighth, Cameron walked to open the inning, and he stole second base. Ryan Braun hit a deep fly that advanced Cameron to third, and Fielder hit a sacrifice fly to score him. It was the kind of manufactured small-ball run the Brewers have been looking for in recent games.
But it was Kapler's pinch-hit single that won the game in the top of the 11th, after Fielder doubled with a line-drive to left field.
After spending last year as a Minor League manager in Greenville, S.C., Kapler came back as a bench player to help contribute to the team, which he's managed to do even in limited appearances.
"There's a lot of preparation among guys that don't play regularly, and there's a lot of different mindsets when approaching an at-bat," Kapler said. "Mine is to look for a good pitch and then put a swing on it."
He said he's happy to be back in the rhythms of a baseball clubhouse after making the tough decision to retire.
"It was an emotional decision to go manage, and it was an emotional decision to come back," Kapler said.
The Brewers now are looking to harness a little emotion of their own, finishing a 10-game road swing at 4-6 and returning to Milwaukee for nine games at home.
Torres said even though the Brewers lost in the ninth inning on Sunday, the way they fought back from a six-run deficit laid the ground work for Monday's victory.
"The way we fought Sunday, we could come out with our heads held high," Torres said. "And maybe today that gave us the thought that, 'Yeah, we can do this.'"
And after playing 90 innings of baseball on the road, Monday's morale-boosting victory was worth waiting an extra two to get.
Michael Phillips is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.