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04/22/09 12:40 AM ET
Crew's woes in Philadelphia continue
Parra, bullpen struggle mightily; Braun goes deep twice
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
PHILADELPHIA -- It used to be Pittsburgh that gave the Brewers fits. Now it seems their house of horrors has relocated to the other side of the Appalachians.
Manny Parra struggled and so did the relievers who followed him in Milwaukee's 11-4 loss to the Phillies on Tuesday night at rainy Citizens Bank Park, a place that's been tough for the Brewers for more reasons than the weather. They have lost seven straight games in Philadelphia and 11 of their last 12, including two losses in last year's National League Division Series.
The Brewers' lone bright spot Tuesday was Ryan Braun, who set a career high for hits as part of a 5-for-5, four-RBI night. He hit two home runs and legged out three infield hits, but even Braun was somber after another frustrating night in the City of Brotherly Love.
"I don't think it has as much to do with this place as it does with their team," Braun said of the reigning World Series champs. "They're very well-rounded, they have great starting pitching, a great bullpen. They swing the bats well, they play good defense.
"Right now, we're not doing any of those things well."
The outcome wasn't good. Braun's first-inning solo home run off ageless Phillies starter Jamie Moyer (he's 46, and now he's 2-1 this season) gave the visitors a quick 1-0 lead, but it was short-lived. The Phillies struck back with four runs in the first inning against Parra (0-3), and then pulled away in the fifth by putting up a five-spot against relievers Jorge Julio and R.J. Swindle.
The game was delayed for an hour and 18 minutes in the top of the seventh inning by rain. But Mother Nature couldn't wash away another walk-marred loss -- Parra & Co. combined for nine free passes -- as the Brewers dropped into last place in the National League Central at 4-9.
Braun hit a two-run blast to left in the fifth and an RBI infield hit following the rain delay in the seventh. Those four runs represented all Milwaukee could muster against Moyer, who scattered seven Brewers hits including Braun's homers in six innings for his 248th career win.
Parra was not as sharp.
"I [stunk]," Parra said. "I never gave our team a chance to win."
He surrendered five runs and 10 baserunners -- seven hits and three walks -- in four innings. Philadelphia batted around in the first inning and scored four runs on four hits and a pair of walks. Pedro Feliz capped the rally with an RBI single, and he added a solo home run off Parra in the fourth.
Braun's blasts kept the Brewers as close as 5-3 entering the bottom of the fifth, when the game slipped away from Julio and Swindle. Julio walked three of the first five hitters he faced including Moyer, who struck out in his other two plate appearances. Swindle inherited a bases-loaded jam and walked the first hitter he faced -- Chase Utley -- to force in a run. It was the seventh bases-loaded walk by a Milwaukee pitcher this season.
"It's frustrating," Braun said. "If you don't make them swing the bat, then you don't keep your defense in the game and you don't give your team a chance to get anybody out. We're falling behind everybody. Every hitter.
"The pitching has obviously been pretty bad, but the offense has been pretty bad. The defense has been pretty bad. I don't think we've really done anything well the first 13 games of the season. We just have to find a way to turn it around. Saying, 'It's early,' or, 'No need to panic,' none of that really matters. We just need to come out and play better."
Ryan Howard followed Utley and stood by as the Phillies tacked on two more insurance runs. The first scored when Swindle's wild pitch bounced away from catcher Jason Kendall, and a second runner raced home when Kendall's flip to Swindle covering the plate got by the Brewers pitcher.
But it was the walks that bothered Brewers manager Ken Macha, and one stood out. Julio had two outs and an 0-and-2 count against Moyer before issuing a free pass. Jimmy Rollins followed with a single to load the bases for Shane Victorino, who delivered an RBI hit.
"We battled back, we got in the game," Macha said. "To me, [the Moyer walk] was the turning point in the game. ... This walking people, it just can't continue. That's all there is to it."
Parra's poor outing snapped a streak of success for Brewers starters. His last outing against the Reds began a streak of five consecutive quality starts -- six or more innings with three or fewer earned runs.
Macha would like to see Parra throw more changeups, 30 or so per 100 pitches. By the manager's count, only 11 of Parra's 77 pitches on Tuesday were changeups, and 10 of those were strikes.
Asked what was causing his trouble, Parra answered quickly.
"Command," he said. "It's everything. It's up in the zone right now. ... It's mechanical, I'm sure. I'm working my butt off between starts on getting the ball down. I've been doing it for a year and a half now, as far as making that my main focus. You see progress, but it's just inconsistent right now."