Sabathia strikes out 11, Brewers win again

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MILWAUKEE (AP)—The trade for CC Sabathia keeps looking better and better.

Sabathia sizzled on short rest, giving up four hits over seven innings while striking out a season-high 11 and the Brewers rallied past the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-2 on Wednesday night to tie the New York Mets in the NL wild-card race.

New York lost 9-6 in 10 innings to Chicago.

“Every game we know is big, no matter who we’re playing, so pretty much right now every game’s a playoff game so you’ve got to go out and try to win any way you can,” Sabathia said. “Every game’s a playoff game, and we’re still breathing.”

Milwaukee won its 11th straight over Pittsburgh in its desperate quest to make the postseason for the first time since 1982, and Sabathia is the major reason why the Brewers are where they are with four games to play.

“Pitching on this short of rest and throwing 100 pitches every time and dominating like that is unbelievable,” said Prince Fielder, who hit a two-out homer in the bottom of the ninth to win Tuesday’s game. “For a guy to come in and not be with the team all year and for him to feel like that and for us to believe in him like that is a credit to him.”

Sabathia, who came to Milwaukee on July 7 from Cleveland for four prospects, had his eighth game this season with at least 10 strikeouts and the Brewers are 13-3 when he starts.

“You hope to God you get to the playoffs and make that thing really, really look like the best trade of all time because obviously it’s catapulted us to this position and there’s a chance it comes down to Sunday,” interim manager Dale Sveum said. “If it’s tied or whatever, you’ll probably see the best pitcher in baseball go out there.”

Sabathia’s latest performance came at a crucial time for the Brewers, who started September with a 5 1/2 -game lead in the wild card but squandered it with a 2-8 road trip that saw Sveum replace Ned Yost as manager.

Sveum, who kept glancing at the TV, finally stopped his thought when Aramis Ramirez homered for the Cubs in the 10th.

“Awesome!” Sveum said. “That a way, Rammie!”

Sabathia (10-2) retired 13 of his final 14 batters after giving up a two-out RBI single to Jason Michaels in the third as the Brewers rallied for a second straight game.

This one wasn’t nearly as dramatic as Tuesday because Pirates starter Paul Maholm (9-9) walked three more batters in the fourth inning after Fielder extended his hitting streak to 14 games with an RBI single that tied it.

Trailing 1-0, Mike Cameron singled, Bill Hall walked and Ryan Braun popped out before Fielder’s hit. Maholm then walked J.J. Hardy to load the bases and struck out Corey Hart, but he walked Rickie Weeks and Jason Kendall to give Milwaukee a 3-1 lead before getting out of the jam.

Milwaukee made it 4-1 in the sixth on Hart’s sacrifice fly that scored Fielder, taking advantage of an error and nine walks while only getting two hits.

“To win a game with walks, we’re not really accustomed to doing that,” Sveum said.

The Pirates have lost eight straight on the road and 14 in a row in Milwaukee.

“We haven’t fared well here,” Pirates manager John Russell said.

Milwaukee’s run support appeared to energize Sabathia, who struck out the last two in the fifth and first two in the sixth, keeping his fastball in the mid-90s despite pitching on three days’ rest for the second consecutive start.

After needing 28 pitches in the first inning, he was nearly as dominant as when he held the Pirates to one hit in a complete game on Aug. 31, and he helped stop the Brewers’ tailspin that began the next day.

Sabathia hopes to pitch one more time.

The free-agent-to-be has promised to start a third time on short rest Sunday, if needed, but the Brewers have a long way to go with a game remaining against the Pirates before a three-game series with the Cubs.

“If it matters, I want to pitch,” Sabathia said. “No matter how many days rest, I feel like I want to be out there.”

How many pitches can he go?

“Um, 175,” Sabathia said. “Whatever it takes. Whatever it takes right now at this point to get us in the playoffs is what I’ll do.”

Milwaukee’s rotation remains iffy, with Yovani Gallardo starting Thursday for the first time since May 1 after tearing a ligament in his right knee and needing surgery.

On Friday, Jeff Suppan (0-3, 10.47 ERA in four starts) will face Chicago’s Ryan Dempster (17-6, 2.99 ERA) followed by either Ben Sheets (sore elbow) or Dave Bush on short rest before Sabathia’s turn would come up again.

“That guy has done everything you can for this organization, whether you sign him back or not,” Sveum said. “He’s just one of those special human beings that come around once in a while.”

Notes

Adam LaRoche homered with one out in the ninth against Salomon Torres, who picked up his 28th save by striking out Andy LaRoche to end it. … The Brewers established an all-time attendance record with 2,893,685 fans this season. The club is on pace to surpass the 3 million mark.

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