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06/22/08 3:21 PM ET

Bench comes through for Brewers

With starters injured, reserves get the job done for Yost

MILWAUKEE -- On Sunday, the Brewers were nearly back at full capacity for the first time since the first week of June, when Rickie Weeks was sidelined with a sprained left knee.

While Weeks was doing his 15-day stint on the disabled list, Milwaukee also lost shortstop J.J. Hardy (strained left shoulder) and outfielder Mike Cameron (hyperextended big toe on his left foot). Weeks and Hardy were both in the lineup on Sunday, and Cameron isn't expected to be out much longer.

Also over that span, the Brewers got reliever David Riske back from the DL, lefty Randy Choate started a rehab assignment and former closer Eric Gagne has progressed toward a rehab assignment of his own that will begin as early as this week.

Milwaukee has been able to sustain its recent success without its starters. Entering Sunday, the Brewers are 20-10 since May 20, and they've gone 8-4 since June 8, including a 5-3 homestand.

Manager Ned Yost praised his reserves before Sunday's game.

"That's why you have a good bench," Yost said. "So you can [make it through] all those little injuries you're going to have over the course of the year, have the guy who can step in and not miss a beat."

Yost considers this season's bench to be the best -- the deepest and most experienced -- he's had as the Brewers' manager.

"Oh yeah, no doubt," he said. "[Craig] Counsell, [Gabe] Kapler, [Bill] Hall, [Joe] Dillon. They've been real good."

Yost singled out Counsell as a player who has played very well during his stint starting at shortstop and second base while Hardy and Weeks were out of the lineup.

"He always does [play well]," Yost said. "I like him anywhere [in the field]. He's swinging the bat really well, too."

Not only has Counsell provided a steady glove at two critical spots, he filled in for Weeks as the leadoff man for the Brewers. During the current homestand, he has hit .250 with a .357 on-base percentage, scored in five of eight games, had a hit in all but one and walked six times to set the table for Milwaukee's offense.

Dave Fultz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.