08/12/09 2:05 AM ET
Brewers know they need to turn it around
Milwaukee pitchers struggle in lopsided loss to San Diego
By Cash Kruth / MLB.com
For the Brewers, it was a lopsided loss in a second half full of struggles.
When the top of the sixth inning started, Milwaukee trailed by one run. Two errors, six runs and four pitchers later, it was clear the night belonged to San Diego.
Brewers starter Braden Looper struggled, and the bullpen didn't fare much better, as San Diego had its best offensive night of the season, beating Milwaukee, 13-6, at Miller Park.
"That's one to forget," said reliever Mitch Stetter, who didn't record an out while facing four batters in the six-run sixth inning.
Unfortunately for the Brewers, the lopsided losses have become a trend. Tuesday's game marked the team's eighth loss by four runs or more since the All-Star break. Milwaukee has allowed at least five runs in 15 of those 24 games.
"You hate to see that," Stetter said of a high-scoring game. "We've had a few games lately where it's just been a little ridiculous, the amount of runs that we give up. It stinks. Nobody likes doing that, and you're not going to win many games doing that."
Since July 1, the Brewers have lost 22 of 35 games.
With Tuesday's game in the books, Milwaukee has 50 games remaining this season. On the surface, the number seems large, but the Brewers are 6 1/2 games behind the National League Central-leading Cardinals.
Even if the Brewers equal their record through their first 50 games (30-20), the Cardinals could still clinch the division by finishing one game under .500.
For a team that still sees itself in the playoff picture -- adding three relievers in the past two weeks and still searching for starting pitching -- the Brewers seemingly need to start winning now, something manager Ken Macha mentioned prior to the game.
"We need to start chalking up some wins," Macha said. "It's been my experience that if you're not within five games on Sept. 1, it really makes it difficult. ... I'd like to chop it down to three games between now and Sept. 1. The sense of urgency should be starting to sink in."
It didn't show Tuesday, as the Brewers found themselves all but out of it after one slow, painful inning.
The Padres went up, 3-2, after a grounder by Adrian Gonzalez got past Brewers second baseman Felipe Lopez to begin a two-out rally in the fifth inning.
In the sixth, Padres starter Clayton Richard bunted in front of home plate following back-to-back singles. Brewers catcher Jason Kendall fielded the ball, but he threw wildly to third, allowing one run to score.
"It was an easy chance to get the runner out at [third] on a force play, and ... to me, that was the huge play," Macha said. "And then we just started unraveling after that."
Looper intentionally walked Everth Cabrera to load the bases before coming out, and Claudio Vargas got David Eckstein to fly to right for the inning's first out. But left-handed specialist Stetter allowed four straight batters to reach, and the deficit continued to grow.
Bill Hall hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth, but the Padres continued to add to their lead with three more runs in the seventh and another in the eighth.
The Padres posted season highs in runs and hits (22). Gonzalez led the way with six hits, a team record for most hits in a nine-inning game.
"I was able to do it in nine [innings] because everyone hit," said Gonzalez, who drove in three runs with a double and five singles.
Looper (10-6) took the loss, giving up seven runs -- five earned -- in five-plus innings. It was the second time in Looper's past three starts he faced the Padres. He had a no-decision on July 31. In his past two outings against San Diego, the Padres are 21-for-49 (.429) against the right-hander.
Richard (2-0) earned his second National League win -- both against the Brewers -- by allowing four runs on six hits in six innings.
"I don't think so -- not yet," Stetter said of the team's mind-set taking a turn for the worse. "We have a good team. We come out ready to play every day, and hopefully we'll hang in there and we'll get things turned around."
Macha, as well, was adamant that despite the Brewers' struggles, he and his team are not ready to give up on the season.
But despite a seemingly easy August schedule -- all opponents are under .500 -- the manager said the Brewers need to focus on the present and get themselves figured out.
"I'm very much aware of what lies ahead of us, but we have to pay attention to what tomorrow is instead of looking far ahead," Macha said. "We had a couple misplays in that sixth inning that cost us a bunch of runs, and basically the ballgame."
Cash Kruth is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.