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Brewers' Lohse blanks Braves in fight-marred game

The SportsXchange

ATLANTA -- Carlos Gomez stirred things up, and then Kyle Lohse finished off the Atlanta Braves, who lost their grip on the best record in the National League.

Lohse pitched a two-hit shutout for his second complete game in the past three starts, and the Milwaukee Brewers defeated the Braves 4-0 at Turner Field on Wednesday night to complete a series victory.

Lohse (11-10) retired 20 batters in a row after Andrelton Simmons' leadoff bunt single. Evan Gattis singled with two outs in the seventh inning to end the streak. Lohse struck out five and walked none, needing only 89 pitches, 67 of them strikes.

"Oh my gosh, was that impressive," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "He was down in the zone, worked ahead, threw strikes, mixed things well. That was fun to watch."

The start of the game, though, was scary.

Gomez, the second batter, drew the Braves' anger with his actions after his homer off Paul Maholm. He never actually got a chance to touch home plate as a bench-clearing melee ensued. Gomez was ejected along with two Braves, Freddie Freeman and Gerald Laird.

"The adrenaline got going early," Lohse said.

Gomez admired his 23rd homer, a long blast to left-center field, and then jawed with Maholm before slowly rounding the bases, squawking all the way after exchanging heated words with Freeman at first base.

Before he could get near home plate, Gomez was confronted by Braves catcher Brian McCann and hostilities began in earnest, with both benches and the bullpens clearing.

Gomez, who smashed a leadoff homer in the series opener Monday night, was hit on the left knee by a pitch from Maholm during the Braves' series in Milwaukee in June, and he pointed to his leg while rounding the bases.

"For doing a little more, I don't apologize for this," Gomez said. "They hit me for no reason, and I tried to get it back today. It's the only opportunity I have, and that's what I did."

Roenicke said, "I see both sides. (Maholm) has hit him a couple of times, and I'm sure (Gomez) wanted to smoke one off him, but he stood there too long. But on their end, too, that was a little excessive."

It was second time in a few weeks that the Braves were involved in a benches-clearing incident after a home run. McCann and the Braves took exception to Marlins rookie pitcher Jose Fernandez's actions after a home run in Miami on Sept. 11.

This time, Gomez never actually touched the plate. "Run scores with the obstruction," umpire crew chief Dana DeMuth said afterward.

Maholm said of Gomez, "I guess every guy that hits him he's going to decide to act like that."

Freeman added, "I just told him to act like he'd done it before on the bases and start running. Then they had the altercation at home plate, and I came in and kind of moved the pile a little bit."

With the loss, the Braves (93-65) fell a half-game behind the NL Central-leading St. Louis Cardinals (94-65) for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Cardinals defeated the Washington Nationals 4-1 to complete a series sweep.

Lohse, who defeated the Braves in the 2012 NL wild-card game last year, was 16-3 with St. Louis Cardinals a year ago. However, he went unsigned as a free agent until getting a three-year, $33 million deal from the Brewers during spring training.

The wild-card game also featured plenty of excitement, and the field was showered with debris from angry Braves fans after a controversial infield-fly ruling.

"At least bottles didn't come raining down (this time)," said Lohse, who finished with a 3.35 ERA in 32 starts for Milwaukee.

The Braves, who lost 5-0 in the series opener Monday, were shut out for the 17th time this season.

"I'm not going to overpower guys, but I locate my pitches, and tonight I was locating really well," Lohse said.

Maholm (10-11) worked seven innings and allowed eight hits and three runs. The left-hander struck out seven and didn't walk a batter.

Norichika Aoki was 3-for-5 with a double and two RBIs for the Brewers, who took the season series from the Braves 4-2.

NOTES: Brewers 3B Aramis Ramirez twisted his left knee during the melee and left the game after the third inning. ... OF Jason Heyward, 2-for-15 since returning from a broken jaw, was out of the Braves' lineup after starting four of his first five games back. ... Brewers SS Jean Segura, leading the National League with 44 stolen bases, missed his seventh straight game because of strained right hamstring. ... The Brewers took two of three games against the Braves at Milwaukee in June. ... RHP David Hale, who struck out nine over five innings in his major league debut against the San Diego Padres on Sept. 13, will start Thursday's series opener for the Braves against the Philadelphia Phillies.
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