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Swingin' Brewers pull away from Giants

The SportsXchange

SAN FRANCISCO -- Milwaukee Brewers manager Ron Roenicke doesn't necessarily believe in the baseball axiom: Play for the win on the road; play for the tie at home.

After what transpired in the eighth inning Wednesday night, he's become more of a believer.

Roenicke let Yuniesky Betancourt swing away in a bunting situation, and the No. 7 hitter came through with the key hit in a four-run uprising that lifted the Brewers to a 6-1 win over the San Francisco Giants.

The Brewers, shut out for seven innings by Madison Bumgarner, took advantage of sloppy defense by the Giants and clutch hits by Betancourt and Norichika Aoki to win at AT&T Park for a second day in a row in the battle of last-place teams in their respective divisions.

"That was a good win for us," said Roenicke, who earned the victory every bit as much as reliever Alfredo Figaro (2-3). "We've been in a lot of close games late where we've made the mistake that's cost us ballgames. It's nice to see us take advantage of that for a change."

The tight contest began as a pitchers' duel between the Brewers' Marco Estrada and Bumgarner.

Estrada, activated off the disabled list earlier in the day after having suffered a hamstring injury July 3 against Oakland, left after pitching five shutout innings, throwing one more pitch (76) than what had been considered his limit. He faced only one batter over the minimum, retiring the final 14 batters after surrendering the only hit he allowed, a one-out single by Brandon Crawford in the first inning.

"It's nice to be back," said Estrada, who exited a scoreless game and did not factor in the decision. "My goal was to get through five (innings) and give us a chance to win."

Bumgarner (11-7) took a two-hit shutout and 1-0 lead into the eighth, but he never got an out in the inning and contributed to his own demise with a throwing error.

Khris Davis started the Brewers' uprising with a single to center field. Then up stepped Betancourt, who got bunt signs on Bumgarner's first two pitches, both of which were balls.

That's when Roenicke changed his mind, and his first baseman came through, smacking a double just over the head of Giants left fielder Roger Kieschnick to put the potential tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position with no outs.

"There's a lot of times it doesn't work out well and you second-guess yourself," Roenicke said of the bold move. "When it works out like that, it makes the manager look good."

The Giants' poor defense helped.

First, with the Giants conceding the tying run by playing their infield back, Jeff Bianchi executed perfectly, hitting an RBI grounder to Crawford, the Giants' shortstop, that scored Davis. When the usually reliable Crawford double-clutched on his throw to first, Bianchi reached safely with what was ruled a hit.

Pinch hitter Logan Schafer then bunted toward Bumgarner, who hesitated throwing to third because third baseman Pablo Sandoval slipped while returning to the bag. Bumgarner's subsequent off-balance throw was low and skipped past Sandoval for an error, allowing Betancourt to score and put the Brewers on top 2-1.

Santiago Casilla replaced Bumgarner and got Rickie Weeks to ground to Sandoval for the first out. Aoki then lined a single up the middle, scoring Bianchi and Schafer to break the game open.

"Our execution killed us in the eighth," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "We're playing like where we're at (in the standings) right now. It shouldn't happen but it did, and to get this kind of pitching and not get some wins, shame on us."

Bumgarner, who was attempting to become the first Giants pitcher in 44 years to pitch at least seven innings and allow three or fewer runs in 10 consecutive games, failed in his quest for a small piece of San Francisco history. He gave up four runs (three earned) in seven-plus innings.

In losing for the third time in his last four starts, Bumgarner allowed five hits and three walks. He struck out four.

"We've had a lot of games like this this year," Bumgarner said of a defeat that dropped the Giants' home record to 29-29. "For whatever reason, we don't look like the same team we were last year even though we've got the same guys out there. It's just not going our way."

Davis' third home run of the year off Barry Zito in the ninth highlighted a two-run inning that completed the scoring.

NOTES: The Brewers out-hit the Giants 10-3. ... The Giants did not hit a home run at home for the 11th consecutive game. ... The two teams complete their seven-game season series Thursday afternoon. The Brewers, who swept three from the Giants earlier this season in Milwaukee, have clinched the series with a 5-1 advantage. ... In order to activate Estrada, the Brewers optioned 2B Scooter Gennett to Triple-A Nashville. Gennett hit a triple in Monday's series opener. ... Gennett's trip to the minors might be a short one. Weeks strained his left hamstring in the eighth inning and had to be helped off the field. The disabled list is a possibility. ... RF Hunter Pence went 0-for-4 in his leadoff debut for the Giants. San Francisco leadoff men have now gone hitless in their last 22 at-bats. ... Wednesday was the sixth anniversary of LF Barry Bonds' 756th home run, which gave him the all-time lead over Henry Aaron. An orange sign hangs at AT&T Park on a brick wall beyond the center-field fence near where Bonds' home run off Washington Nationals LHP Mike Bacsik landed.

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