06/16/09 12:48 AM ET
Prince of a night: Fielder's slam caps win
Infielder's first bases-clearing blast, Braun's RBIs pace club
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
"I knew it was at least a double," Fielder said of his game-winning drive. "I didn't know if it was going to get out. When it did, that's when I got excited."There was plenty to be excited about for the Brewers, who had lost six of their past seven games entering their first trip to Cleveland since 2001. They overcame Dave Bush's worst start this season and clawed back from deficits of 8-3 after four innings and 12-7 after the sixth thanks mostly to Fielder, who took over the National League lead with 60 RBIs, and Braun, who drove in five runs and finished a double shy of the cycle. Braun finished 3-for-5 with four runs scored. Casey McGehee followed his first career three-hit game Sunday with three more Monday, and McGehee and leadoff hitter Craig Counsell each scored three times. Even slumping shortstop J.J. Hardy got in on the fun, snapping an 0-for-30 drought with a single and a run scored. "That's American League baseball for you right there. That's fun," said Braun, who had one shot at becoming the first Brewer to hit for the cycle in five years. He struck out in the ninth. No matter. Todd Coffey retired all four hitters he faced for the win, and Trevor Hoffman rebounded from a loss Sunday, during which he allowed his first run of the season. Hoffman worked around a hit in the bottom of the ninth and improved to 16-for-16 in save chances. "That's a character-builder right there," Braun said. "The way we've been going, if we lose [the game], we feel bad about the way we're been playing. Winning a game like that, it shows that ... we're definitely not giving up. It's a reminder that anything is possible in this game. Especially in the American League, when you have a hitter in the lineup instead of a pitcher." With their surprising win, the Brewers held onto sole possession of first place in the National League Central for an 11th straight day. The victory also marked the first time a pair of Brewers teammates drove in at least five runs apiece in the same game since Richie Sexson and John Vander Wal combined for 11 RBIs on April 25, 2003. "That's an interesting game," manager Ken Macha said. "We were pretty much out of it a couple of times, but the guys didn't quit. ... There was still a lot of fight in the dog." Bush was Mr. Dependable for the Brewers early this season, but he continued a midseason swoon against the Indians. He worked a season-low 3 1/3 innings and allowed a season-high eight runs. He had notched so-called quality starts -- six or more innings with three or fewer earned runs -- in seven of his first eight outings this season, but he has been unable to meet the criteria in each of his past five starts. Bush is 0-4 in that span with an 8.64 ERA (24 earned runs in 25 innings) with 30 hits and 15 walks, a streak he couldn't quite explain. "I'm not completely sure," said Bush, who allowed six hits, walked two batters and plunked two with pitches -- both of whom scored. "I'm out of sync. I'm having trouble with my fastball a lot, and that's getting me behind. "Something's just not working right. I can't get my arm and my body working at the same pace." The Brewers spotted Bush leads of 2-0 and 3-2, but he gave it back both times on two-run home runs. Victor Martinez, who finished 3-for-4 with three runs scored and four RBIs, homered in the third inning to give the Tribe a 4-3 lead and then drove in two more runs in the fourth with a single off reliever Chris Narveson, who made his first Major League appearance since 2006. Both of those runs were charged to Bush, and they gave starter Carl Pavano and the Indians a seemingly comfortable 8-3 lead. "I put them in a hole, but they scratched a couple of runs here and there," Bush said of the Brewers' hitters. "They kept us close enough that we could have a big inning later on." The Brewers narrowed the deficit to 8-7 before the Indians pulled away again in the bottom of the sixth, when Mark DeRosa hit a solo home run off Narveson and Travis Hafner followed four batters later with a three-run blast off righty reliever Mark DiFelice, making it 12-7. For Milwaukee's hitters, it might have been difficult to stay in the game. "It's not difficult because it's our job," Fielder said. "But if you let it, you can lose your momentum. Fortunately for us, we stayed in here and we were able to pull through." They scored once in the seventh inning before plating six runs in the decisive eighth. Cleveland relievers Luis Vizcaino and Matt Herges combined to walk the bases loaded for Braun, who hit an infield single to the shortstop. That prompted a call for left-handed reliever Rafael Perez, who fed Fielder a first-pitch slider. Fielder didn't miss it. His 130th career home run gave the Brewers a one-run lead, and Mat Gamel tacked on insurance with an RBI single later in the inning. Fielder was just happy to see the Brewers put up some runs after a 1-5 homestand. "We weren't scoring any at home, and today we scored 14," Fielder said. "Baseball is weird like that. That's why it's so fun and challenging. You never know what's going to happen." "It's a special night, definitely one of those moments you have to enjoy," Braun said. "The season is such a grind and there is so much failure associated with playing this game, so when you do have a game like this, it's something you should enjoy. They don't come around very often."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.