Even with 14 pitchers currently on the roster, the Milwaukee Brewers are dealing with fatigue in their bullpen. It may not get any easier as Dave Bush tries to overcome his early season struggles in their opener of a two-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies at Miller Park.
The Brewers (12-8) have been carrying extra pitchers despite waiting for outfielder Mike Cameron to complete his 25-game suspension for violating the league’s drug policy after using a banned amphetamine. Ironically, almost every reliever struggled in Tuesday’s 9-8, 12-inning victory over St. Louis that allowed Milwaukee to salvage a split of the two-game set.
Closer Eric Gagne—pitching for the fifth time in six days—squandered his second straight save opportunity and fourth in 10 chances after failing to protect an 8-7 lead which had been whittled after David Riske, Brian Shouse and Salomon Torres combined to allow four runs in the seventh inning.
In Gagne’s defense, second baseman Rickie Weeks failed to turn a potential game-ending 5-4-3 double play on a ball hit by Albert Pujols, and the Brewers ended up using two more relievers as Seth McClung struck out two in a perfect 12th for the victory.
“We didn’t turn the double play for him,” Milwaukee manager Ned Yost said. “He’s facing the best hitter in the National League, worked him and got him to hit in a double play, we just didn’t turn it. It should’ve been over right there.”
After using seven relievers Tuesday, there may be more pressure on Bush (0-3, 7.02 ERA) to deliver a quality outing. The right-hander has failed to pitch more than six innings in any of his three starts, but he also has gotten just six runs of support total.
Bush gave up three runs in six innings—his best outing thus far—of a 6-1 loss at St. Louis on April 15, but feels his spot in the rotation is secure.
“I’m not worried about that,” said Bush, who also failed to help his cause by grounding into two inning-ending double plays while batting eighth. “I go out there pitch by pitch and like I said, I felt overall pretty good with the way I threw, just not the result.”
He has no record and a 6.23 ERA in four lifetime starts against the Phillies, and gave up four homers spanning 10 1-3 innings in two appearances against them in 2007.
The Phillies (11-10) enter Milwaukee on a season-high three-game win streak after rallying for victories at Colorado the last two days. Pat Burrell hit a three-run double in the ninth inning as Philadelphia completed the two-game sweep with an 8-6 victory.
Chase Utley failed to extend his home run streak to six games, but did go 2-for-5 with two RBIs. The second baseman has three straight multihit games and is hitting .433 (13-for-30) with six homers and 11 RBIs in his current seven-game hitting streak.
Cole Hamels (2-2, 1.86) is trying to rebound from his worst start of the young season. After yielding just two earned runs in his first three starts, the left-hander was reached for five runs and eight hits in seven innings of a 6-4 loss to the New York Mets on Friday when he was outpitched by Johan Santana.
“There definitely isn’t much margin of error,” Hamels told the Phillies’ official Web site. “(Santana’s) always going to be able to have success. When you go into a game, you know it’s going to be low-scoring and you hope you’re on the right side of it. He has such phenomenal stuff that he can get away with mistakes.”
Hamels won one of his two starts versus Milwaukee last season, limiting the Brewers to two hits and striking out 11 in eight innings of a 6-2 victory May 16. But the southpaw has no record and a 5.40 ERA in two lifetime starts at Miller Park, giving up eight runs in 13 1-3 innings.
Ryan Howard went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts on Tuesday, dropping his average to .190, and he has struck out a major league-leading 30 times in 79 at-bats.