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07/08/08 12:20 AM ET
Brewers' eighth-inning rally falls short
Fielder's home run brings Milwaukee within one run in loss
By JR Radcliffe / Special to MLB.com
MILWAUKEE -- The team's newest "big fella" -- as starting pitcher Seth McClung called him -- was in the fold, and a more familiar big fella was leading a Milwaukee Brewers comeback Monday. Neither was enough to prevent the Brewers from falling by the slimmest of margins on Monday. Milwaukee scored three runs in the eighth to make a game of it against the Colorado Rockies, but the Brewers could not come all the way back from a four-run deficit and fell, 4-3. The loss quieted a crowd of 35,161 revved up about the team's trade for burly starting pitcher CC Sabathia, who will make one of the club's most anticipated debuts Tuesday. "It seems like baseball kind of took it away from us today," said McClung, who was unable to escape the fifth after issuing three of his five walks in that inning. "That's the way the game works sometimes. I felt like I had my best stuff of the year, spotting up pretty good, and they don't see it the same way I do." Matt Holliday homered leading off the seventh against reliever Carlos Villanueva, a strike that loomed large after Prince Fielder's two-run blast in the eighth pulled the Brewers within a run. One batter earlier, Ryan Braun had grounded sharply into a run-scoring double play, as the ball caught the pitcher's mound and bounced right to shortstop Clint Barmes. "That's fluky," Brewers manager Ned Yost said. "It's going to go right through, and there's nothing you can do about it. Brauny smoked it. He hit the ball as hard as he could on the ground." Rockies right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez kept Milwaukee off the scoreboard for seven innings, despite issuing five walks of his own. He also struck out seven and permitted just three hits as Colorado gradually built its lead with single tallies each of the fourth through seventh innings. "He fell behind, but he made pitches," Yost said of Jimenez. "When you come at 98 [mph], you can get away with a lot of mistakes. With action, that's not a straight 98, and it makes it very tough to hit. When he's in the strike zone, he's going to do well. When he's not, he's going to get kind of like Seth is. Walk a guy, walk a guy, base hit. " McClung allowed two runs on three hits in 4 2/3 innings, and he limited the damage of his five walks. Garrett Atkins' sacrifice fly was the only score after Colorado loaded the bases with no outs in the fourth, and Matt Holliday's RBI single was all that came from a seven-batter fifth inning. "The ball was jumping out of my hands," McClung said. "I had a nice 91-92 [mph fastball], and could pump it up to 96-97. It just felt like it was coming out of my hand really well. My curveball was real nice, you can look at the tape. " Jimenez helped his own cause by picking Braun and Corey Hart off first base in consecutive innings, and Russell Branyan's error on a Jimenez grounder in the sixth allowed Jeff Baker to score from second base with two outs. "He has a little balk move, one of those things that kind of buckles [your knees] and kind of catches you off guard," Hart said. "But that's quick feet. So if you're leaning at all, that's pretty effective. It's one of those moves that could be [a balk], but you don't call it. "He threw a pretty good ballgame. It didn't help that we got picked off, but even with that, we didn't have many baserunners. They were able to get the timely hits and got a pretty good lead." The loss put a damper on a big day for Milwaukee. Hart was announced as the early leader in the Monster 2008 All-Star Game Final Vote, J.J. Hardy was awarded National League Player of the Week honors and the team announced its deal for Sabathia, who received a rousing ovation after being shown in the dugout on the Miller Park scoreboard. "Everybody loves their fans, but our fans our special," Yost said when asked about the reaction. "Corey Hart's leading the voting, all of our guys were well-represented in the [All-Star Game] voting. When I was with Atlanta, it was fun and everybody got into it, but the town was so transitive. You had fans from every team in that city. You live in Milwaukee, you're a Brewers fan. You're born and raised a Brewers fan." Hoping to see their team reach the playoffs for the first time in 26 years, the faithful now turn their attention to Sabathia's appearance Tuesday. "We've got the big fella going tomorrow," McClung said. "He's a championship-caliber guy, and I'm excited to see him throw tomorrow."
JR Radcliffe is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.