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BULLPEN OFFERS UP LITTLE RELIEF IN LOSS


BULLPEN OFFERS UP LITTLE RELIEF IN LOSS
Now comes the test for Carlos Villanueva.

How will he respond to his first blown save as the Milwaukee Brewers' stand-in closer?

"I knew I wasn't going to be perfect every time out," he said after coughing up a one-run lead by allowing a two-run homer to Alfonso Soriano in the ninth inning that gave the Chicago Cubs a 6-5 win Saturday night at Miller Park.

"It happens, get the first one out of the way, get back at them tomorrow."

A crowd of 43,768 - a fairly even mixture of Brewers and Cubs fans - watched as Soriano sent the first pitch he saw from Villanueva (1-1) into the left field stands to squash any hopes of Milwaukee emerging with a series sweep.

A day after producing a ninth-inning rally of their own in a 4-3 win, the Brewers had to watch as their reworked bullpen faltered. The Cubs scored in each of the final four innings after producing just one run in the first five.

The last two came when Villanueva, filling in for the injured Trevor Hoffman, wasn't able to hit his spot on a changeup against the always-dangerous Soriano - who was 2-for-5 and drove in three - with one out and pinch runner Joey Gathright on first base.

"Knowing he's an aggressive hitter, I tried to go out there and get something to go down, hopefully get him to roll into a double play there," said Villanueva, who hadn't allowed a run in two appearances entering the game, including a clean save Wednesday in San Francisco.

"But (I) just left it a little bit more up than I wanted to there. Good hitter, took advantage of it."

Milwaukee right fielder Corey Hart got on with a one-out single in the bottom of the ninth, but Chicago reliever Carlos Marmol struck out left fielder Ryan Braun and first baseman Prince Fielder - who finished 2-for-3 with two walks and hit his first homer of the season - to end the Brewers' last-ditch threat.

Milwaukee had taken a 5-3 lead on shortstop J.J. Hardy's two-run, tiebreaking single off Chicago reliever Aaron Heilman (1-0), a sharp grounder up the middle that came after consecutive walks by Hart, Braun and Fielder.

"Hopefully that'll get him going," Brewers first-year manager Ken Macha said of Hardy, who was 1-for-19 to start the season before the hit.

Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez's two-out homer in the eighth off reliever Mark DiFelice cut the Brewers' lead to one, which didn't leave Villanueva with any wiggle room.

"He'll be OK," Milwaukee starting pitcher Dave Bush said. "He's a confident kid. ... He's in that role because he can handle it."

The loss spoiled a solid effort by Bush, who allowed three earned runs on six hits in 6 1 3 innings. The Brewers also fared pretty well early on against Cubs ace Carlos Zambrano, taking a 2-0 lead on Fielder's third-inning homer.

"We had the lead when he was pitching," Macha said of Zambrano, who needed 118 pitches to get through six innings, allowing three earned runs on seven hits. "Our guy was out-pitching him. Prince was providing the offense and we had the lead. I'll take that any day. We had his pitch count up high, so I thought our hitters did a good job."

The advantage stood at 3-1 after second baseman Rickie Weeks' run-scoring single in the fourth. Chicago pulled within a run in the sixth on center fielder Kosuke Fukudome's RBI double before Bush worked out of a jam, and tied it at 3 in the seventh when Soriano was called safe at first on a bang-bang play, foiling a potential double play and allowing second baseman Mike Fontenot to score.

Hardy's single broke the deadlock, but the Brewers missed out on a chance to tighten their grip when center fielder Mike Cameron followed with a strikeout and Fielder was tagged out in a rundown.

In the end, Milwaukee could have done with some more insurance.

"Well," Macha asked, "how many more of these Cubs- Brewers games do we have left?"

Chicago AB R H BI BB SO Avg.

ASoriano lf 5 2 2 3 0 0 .280 Fukudome cf 5 1 2 2 0 1 .421 DLee 1b 5 0 0 0 0 0 .091 Bradley rf 4 0 0 0 0 1 .063 ArRamirez 3b 4 1 1 1 0 0 .333 Fontenot 2b 1 1 0 0 3 1 .389 Theriot ss 4 0 2 0 0 0 .563 KHill c 4 0 1 0 0 1 .231 Zambrano p 2 0 0 0 0 1 .000 a-Hoffpauir ph 1 0 0 0 0 1 .333 AGuzman p 0 0 0 0 0 0 - Cotts p 0 0 0 0 0 0 - Heilman p 0 0 0 0 0 0 - c-ReJohnson ph 1 0 1 0 0 0 .500 1-Gathright pr 0 1 0 0 0 0 .000 Marmol p 0 0 0 0 0 0 - Totals 36 6 9 6 3 6 Milwaukee AB R H BI BB SO Avg.

Weeks 2b 5 0 1 1 0 1 .200 Hart rf 3 2 2 0 2 1 .278 Braun lf 4 1 0 0 1 3 .238 Fielder 1b 3 1 2 2 2 1 .235 Hardy ss 3 0 1 2 1 0 .100 Cameron cf 4 0 0 0 0 2 .267 Hall 3b 4 1 1 0 0 1 .286 MRivera c 4 0 2 0 0 2 .500 Bush p 3 0 0 0 0 0 .000 Difelice p 0 0 0 0 0 0 - Coffey p 0 0 0 0 0 0 - b-BNelson ph 1 0 0 0 0 1 .000 Villanueva p 0 0 0 0 0 0 - Totals 34 5 9 5 6 12 Chicago 000 101 112-6 9 0 Milwaukee 002 100 200-5 9 1 a-struck out for Zambrano in the 7th. b-struck out for Coffey in the 8th. c-singled for Heilman in the 9th.

1-ran for R.Johnson in the 9th.

E - Hart (2).

LOB - Chicago 6, Milwaukee 8.

2B - ASoriano (2), Fukudome (3), Fielder (2), MRivera (1).

HR - ASoriano (3), off Villanueva; ArRamirez (2), off Difelice; Fukudome (2), off Bush; Fielder (1), off Zambrano.

RBIs - ASoriano 3 (5), Fukudome 2 (3), ArRamirez (6), Weeks (3), Fielder 2 (3), Hardy 2 (2).

SB - Theriot (1).

GIDP - Hardy.

DP - Chicago 2 (Theriot, Fontenot and DLee), (KHill, Theriot, ArRamirez and Fontenot).

Chicago IP H R ER BB SO ERA Zambrano 6 7 3 3 3 7 3.00 AGuzman .1 0 2 2 2 0 7.71 Cotts 0 0 0 0 1 0 6.75 Heilman W, 1-0 1.2 1 0 0 0 3 0.00 Marmol S, 1 1 1 0 0 0 2 0.00 Milwaukee IP H R ER BB SO ERA Bush 6.1 6 3 3 2 5 6.14 Difelice BS, 1 1.1 1 1 1 0 1 3.00 Coffey H, 2 .1 0 0 0 1 0 0.00 Villanueva L, 1-1 BS, 1 1 2 2 2 0 0 6.00 Cotts pitched to 1 batter in the 7th.

Inherited runners-scored - Cotts 2-0, Heilman 3-2, Difelice 3-1.

T - 3:15.

Att. - 43,768.

Cubs 6, Brewers 5

Key: Carlos Marmol strikes out Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder with the tying run on base to end the game.

Next: 7:05 p.m. today, vs. Chicago Cubs, Miller Park, ESPN.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 14, 2009

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