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Perez, Kratz pitch as Crew drops finale, series

Position-player duo combines for three scoreless in loss to Dodgers
MLB.com

MILWAUKEE -- Utility man Hernan Perez was the Brewers' best pitcher on Sunday and catcher Erik Kratz wasn't far behind, which was good for entertainment value but little else in an 11-2 loss to the Dodgers at Miller Park.

Perez pitched two scoreless innings before Kratz kept the Dodgers off the scoreboard in the ninth for the Brewers, who faced a nine-run deficit by the fifth inning and were short of arms after losing starter Brent Suter to a forearm injury after the third.

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MILWAUKEE -- Utility man Hernan Perez was the Brewers' best pitcher on Sunday and catcher Erik Kratz wasn't far behind, which was good for entertainment value but little else in an 11-2 loss to the Dodgers at Miller Park.

Perez pitched two scoreless innings before Kratz kept the Dodgers off the scoreboard in the ninth for the Brewers, who faced a nine-run deficit by the fifth inning and were short of arms after losing starter Brent Suter to a forearm injury after the third.

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Milwaukee has been short of victories of late, too. After dropping two of three games to the Dodgers to begin the second half, the Brewers have lost nine of their last 11 to fall 3 1/2 games in the NL Central with the Cubs' win over the Cardinals.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Milwaukee Brewers, Erik Kratz, Hernan Perez

Suter exits vs. LA due to left forearm tightness

MLB.com

MILWAUKEE -- Brewers starter Brent Suter grimaced after throwing to first base for the final out of the third inning on Sunday and went straight into the clubhouse with a member of Milwaukee's athletic training staff, the latest injury issue for a team beset by them of late.

The Brewers announced the southpaw exited their 11-2 loss with left forearm tightness.

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MILWAUKEE -- Brewers starter Brent Suter grimaced after throwing to first base for the final out of the third inning on Sunday and went straight into the clubhouse with a member of Milwaukee's athletic training staff, the latest injury issue for a team beset by them of late.

The Brewers announced the southpaw exited their 11-2 loss with left forearm tightness.

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Suter was making his second start off a stint on the disabled list for a left forearm strain. He grabbed that area as he walked off the field.

Taylor Williams took over for Suter in the fourth inning with the Dodgers leading the Brewers, 6-2.

Suter was charged with six runs on eight hits, including a pair of Matt Kemp home runs. All of the runs were earned, though the final four of the Dodgers' five runs in the second inning scored with two outs after first baseman Ryan Braun missed a popup in shallow right field, which was ruled a hit.

Brewers starters entered the day 10th of 30 Major League teams with a 3.83 ERA despite a series of injuries. Top starter Jimmy Nelson has been sidelined all year while recovering from shoulder surgery, and Chase Anderson, Zach Davies, Junior Guerra, Wade Miley and Suter have all spent time on the 10-day DL. As of Sunday, Nelson, Davies and Guerra were on the DL, though Guerra is expected to return from a forearm strain on Tuesday against the Nationals.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Milwaukee Brewers, Brent Suter

Burnes quickly ascends to key role for Brewers

Aguilar out Sunday due to cramps; Guerra, Peralta to return vs. Nats
MLB.com

MILWAUKEE -- Corbin Burnes' rise from the 2016 Draft to high leverage Brewers reliever two years later was fast. But that's only part of the story.

Burnes didn't even pitch full-time until 2013, his senior year at Centennial High School in Bakersfield, Calif. He was a self-described slow-footed, slap-hitting middle infielder before that, and since he had no ambition of playing professional baseball at the time, he essentially answered, "Why not?" when it was suggested he move to the mound.

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MILWAUKEE -- Corbin Burnes' rise from the 2016 Draft to high leverage Brewers reliever two years later was fast. But that's only part of the story.

Burnes didn't even pitch full-time until 2013, his senior year at Centennial High School in Bakersfield, Calif. He was a self-described slow-footed, slap-hitting middle infielder before that, and since he had no ambition of playing professional baseball at the time, he essentially answered, "Why not?" when it was suggested he move to the mound.

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He threw a fastball, curveball and changeup in high school, topping out at 87-88 mph. Burnes added a cutter once he got to St. Mary's College, where head coach Eric Valenzuela helped morph the pitch into the lengthy, nasty slider Burnes is known for today. His ERA fell and his strikeout rate rose in each of his three collegiate seasons.

Along the way, Burnes grew four inches and filled his frame. The Brewers made him their fourth-round Draft pick.

"I was still learning all through college," Burnes said.

He proved a quick learner. Burnes, the Brewers' top pitching prospect according to MLB Pipeline, shot through Milwaukee's Minor League system in two calendar years, earning 2017 Minor League Pitcher of the Year honors with the third-best ERA (1.67) of qualified pitchers throughout Minor League baseball. When the organization shifted Burnes to the bullpen this season at Triple-A Colorado Springs, manager Rick Sweet and pitching coach Fred Dabney presented it on June 14 as "good news," Burnes said. It meant a quicker path to the Major Leagues.

"I'm just making the most of every opportunity," Burnes said. "I'm all for it."

There was no breaking-in period. Burnes' big league debut came July 10 in Miami, when Burnes inherited a two-run lead in the eighth inning and, after airing his very first pitch to the backstop, settled in to retire all six batters he faced for a two-inning save. On July 14, he pitched two scoreless innings in Pittsburgh with the Brewers down a run.

Video: MIL@MIA: Burnes goes 2 scoreless in debut to get save

And on Saturday against the Dodgers, Burnes inherited a bases-loaded, no-out situation in the fifth inning of a game the Brewers trailed, 2-1. Burnes escaped without allowing a run, then pitched a scoreless sixth and was rewarded with his first Major League victory when the Brewers rallied to beat Clayton Kershaw.

"It's been based on need a little bit," said Counsell. "And he's handled every situation wonderfully. He's going to give up runs here, but there's a reason he's a very highly thought of player, and a reason he shot through the Minor Leagues. That's part of the reason we're using him in these situations. It's been a shot in the arm for our bullpen."

Like they said about Josh Hader last year, Brewers officials say they view Burnes as a starting pitcher long-term. But unlike Hader, who works primarily with two pitches and was so dominant in relief that he stuck, it sounds as if the club means it about Burnes.

"Corbin will be a starter next year. For sure. One hundred percent," Counsell said. "There is no debate on that one."

For now, Burnes will continue to contribute out of the bullpen.

"It's awesome to get the trust of Counsell and the staff to get put in the situations I've been in," Burnes said. "I'm going to keep trying to make the most of it."

Last call
• The Brewers held Jesus Aguilar out of Sunday's series finale against the Dodgers after he reported tightness in his hamstrings on Saturday night. Aguilar, who entered the day as the National League's co-leader with 25 home runs, didn't get much of an All-Star break because he participated in the T-Mobile Home Run Derby before getting two at-bats for the National League in the game itself.

Junior Guerra is expected to be ready to come off the disabled list (right forearm strain) to start Tuesday's game against the Nationals at Miller Park. The Brewers plan to recall Freddy Peralta from a brief assignment to Class A Wisconsin to start Wednesday's series finale.

• Another starter on the 10-day disabled list, Zach Davies, is scheduled to test his injured back by throwing live batting practice on Monday. The next step would be a Minor League rehab assignment. One of Monday's hitters will be first baseman/outfielder Eric Thames, who has a chance to return from the 10-day DL (hamstring) when he's eligible on Tuesday.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Milwaukee Brewers, Corbin Burnes

Brewers get to Kershaw, snap 7-game skid

Yelich, Broxton power 3-run inning against Dodgers ace
MLB.com

MILWAUKEE -- After a miserable stretch for the Brewers in which everything imaginable went wrong, this was a night when everything went just right.

In a come-from-behind, 4-2 win over Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers on Saturday at Miller Park, Ryan Braun returned from the disabled list and scored twice -- reaching base on one Dodgers error and scoring the go-ahead run on another. Christian Yelich stayed hot with a tying home run. Rookie Corbin Burnes extinguished a bases-loaded, no-out jam on the way to his first Major League win in his home debut.

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MILWAUKEE -- After a miserable stretch for the Brewers in which everything imaginable went wrong, this was a night when everything went just right.

In a come-from-behind, 4-2 win over Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers on Saturday at Miller Park, Ryan Braun returned from the disabled list and scored twice -- reaching base on one Dodgers error and scoring the go-ahead run on another. Christian Yelich stayed hot with a tying home run. Rookie Corbin Burnes extinguished a bases-loaded, no-out jam on the way to his first Major League win in his home debut.

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And relief ace Josh Hader, a day after he tearfully apologized for the offensive tweets he sent as a teenager, returned to the hill in front of a forgiving home crowd. Hader pitched two scoreless innings, striking out four batters, including all three Dodgers he faced in the eighth.

It added up to the end of a seven-game losing streak for the Brewers, who are now 2 1/2 games behind the Cubs, who split a doubleheader with the Cardinals on Saturday, in the National League Central.

"I feel like you just need one, just to get some positive vibe back on the team," Yelich said. "You break through, you can take a deep breath and be like, 'All right, we got back on the right side of things and now we can just try and build off that.'"

Video: LAD@MIL: Yelich hammers a solo dinger to center field

The night began poorly for the Brewers and right-hander Chase Anderson, who slogged through a 43-pitch first inning extended by seven extra pitches when Braun strayed too far from first base on a routine grounder to second. But the Dodgers mustered only two runs in the inning and stranded the bases loaded, positioning Milwaukee for a comeback against Kershaw.

Rookie right-hander Burnes showed moxie when he took over from Anderson with the bases loaded and no outs in the fifth inning and authored an escape in his first appearance at Miller Park. He stayed in the game to pitch a scoreless sixth and was rewarded with the victory when the Brewers rallied against Kershaw for three runs in the bottom of the inning.

Yelich led off the sixth with his 12th home run for a 2-2 tie, and Braun kept it going with a one-out double. He scored the go-ahead run when pinch-hitter Manny Pina's two-out bouncer dipped below third baseman Max Muncy's glove for the second of three Dodgers errors. Keon Broxton made Muncy and the Dodgers further pay with an RBI triple.

"The sixth inning just spun out of control," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "All night long, we just didn't play a clean game or the type of baseball we're capable of."

Video: LAD@MIL: Broxton ropes an RBI triple to right-center

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Milwaukee's three-run sixth inning decided the game, but the Brewers pointed to Burnes' impressive escape in the previous inning as the game's turning point.

Anderson had recovered nicely from his long first inning and the Brewers had halved the deficit to 2-1 before a four-pitch walk to Kershaw to lead off the fifth produced trouble. When the Dodgers loaded the bases with nobody out, Brewers manager Craig Counsell called for 23-year-old Burnes, Milwaukee's top pitching prospect who only recently started dabbling in relief and had pitched only twice previously in the Major Leagues.

"His first outing, he pitched the eighth inning of a game we were up by two runs," Counsell said. "We decided a while ago that he was going to have to pitch these innings. We don't know a ton about him, but as a player who's been drafted not long ago and has gone fast through the Minor Leagues, he's experienced a lot already, and he's shown he can handle a lot. There's a little trust there."

Video: LAD@MIL: Counsell on the strong bullpen in the win

Burnes rewarded that trust. He got one big out when Kershaw tried to score on a pitch that got away from catcher Erik Kratz, but he was out at home with Burnes covering.

Video: LAD@MIL: Burnes covers the plate to tag Kershaw

Burnes then struck out Matt Kemp and retired Muncy on a flyout to end the inning with no runs scored.

"The key was getting the first [out]," Burnes said. "Kratz knew exactly how we were going to attack Kemp and Muncy. Getting that first one out of the way, knowing I had to face Kemp and then Muncy ... we were able to get to get out of that with a momentum shift and turn the game around."

Said Yelich: "Burnes was huge. He came in in a tough spot for us. That could have got away from us fast if he didn't come in and do what he did for us there."

Video: LAD@MIL: Burnes retires Muncy to strand a pair

SOUND SMART
Braun and Yelich are two of Kershaw's toughest outs in the Majors. Braun is now 11-for-35 against Kershaw, a .314 average that ranks fifth among players with at least 30 at-bats. Yelich, who homered in Tuesday's All-Star Game and delivered three extra-base hits on Friday night, added two hits Saturday against Kershaw, including the home run, and is 7-for-14 lifetime against the left-hander.

Video: LAD@MIL: Braun rips a double in return from injury

"Yeah, I don't want to talk about it," Yelich said with a laugh. "He's definitely a great pitcher, and if you look up some of those hits, they're not exactly lasers all over the yard. It's a lot of some infield lucky ones."

HADER BACK TO WORK
Hader's appearance came four days after he first apologized at the All-Star Game for his offensive tweets in 2011 and '12, and a day after he apologized again in front of teammates and local media. He was greeted with cheers from a crowd of 36,242.

"I'm not expecting that everybody's going to forgive me early," Hader said, "but I just hope that people see my true character today. I hope that I can show them that's not who I was."

Of getting back on the mound, Hader said, "This is what I love to do. It helps me clear my mind and that's really what I did today."

Hader struck out Logan Forsythe to open the seventh inning before working around a Kemp double. In the eighth, Hader struck out Justin Turner, Chris Taylor and Cody Bellinger in order. Corey Knebel then worked the ninth for save No. 12.

"We had all the confidence in the world that Josh is going to pitch well," Counsell said. "He's a really good pitcher, and coming into the second half, he's going to be really important for us. He's made for spots like tonight. There were no questions there for me."

Video: LAD@MIL: Hader freezes Bellinger to K the side in 8th

UP NEXT
It's another matchup of left-handers on Sunday, as Brent Suter works for Milwaukee against the Dodgers' Alex Wood at 1:10 p.m. CT. Suter was on the 10-day disabled list earlier this month with forearm tightness, but he returned to pitch against the Pirates just before the All-Star break.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Milwaukee Brewers, Keon Broxton, Corbin Burnes, Josh Hader, Christian Yelich

Braun scores twice in return from disabled list

Nottingham optioned; Albers set for Triple-A rehab stint
MLB.com

MILWAUKEE -- Ryan Braun is back. Now, can he produce in the second half for a team that needs offense?

The Brewers activated Braun from the 10-day disabled list on Saturday after he dealt with a back/rib-cage injury and slotted him into the cleanup spot against Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers at Miller Park. The team optioned rookie catcher Jacob Nottingham back to Triple-A Colorado Springs to make room for Braun, who has battled injuries all season and has 63 regular-season games remaining to turn around what so far has been the least productive of his 12 Major League seasons.

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MILWAUKEE -- Ryan Braun is back. Now, can he produce in the second half for a team that needs offense?

The Brewers activated Braun from the 10-day disabled list on Saturday after he dealt with a back/rib-cage injury and slotted him into the cleanup spot against Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers at Miller Park. The team optioned rookie catcher Jacob Nottingham back to Triple-A Colorado Springs to make room for Braun, who has battled injuries all season and has 63 regular-season games remaining to turn around what so far has been the least productive of his 12 Major League seasons.

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Braun went 1-for-3 with two runs scored in his return, which saw the Brewers snap a seven-game losing streak with a 4-2 win over Los Angeles.

He hit the All-Star break with a .235/.283/.427 slash line, with 84 weighted runs created plus and a .301 weighted on-base average -- career lows across the board.

"He didn't have a great first half and I think he'd tell you that," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "I think his 'expected' [numbers] based on how he hit the ball was better than his surface line shows. I expect him to be better this half just because I think his luck will even out, first of all, but I think he'll play better.

"He's important for us. He's an important option and I'd like to get him in there on a semi-regular basis, for sure."

Braun missed a handful of games last month to have cryotherapy treatment on his troublesome right thumb, but his surgically repaired back is the chief concern for the second half. Twice, he has hit the DL because of back or rib-cage discomfort.

"Anything back, oblique, intercostal, in that area, it's going to be about explosive, rotational exercises. Obviously swinging is at the front of that, but also diving into walls, running, throwing at full speed, stuff like that," Braun said. "So you try to figure out a routine that puts you in optimal position to stay healthy, and I think the routine that I've always had is something I'm going to have to continue to alter, just a little different now obviously at 34 than it was at 24.

"So much is trial and error, just figuring out what makes the most sense to try to put myself in the ideal position to stay healthy when I'm dealing with back issues."

Nottingham, the Brewers' No. 25 prospect, is 4-for-20 in seven games over multiple stints with the Brewers this season.

Last call
• Rather than risk a rainout at Class A Wisconsin, reliever Matt Albers remained at Miller Park on Saturday and faced hitters in a 30-pitch simulated game. His next assignment is at Triple-A Colorado Springs, as the right-hander works back from a right shoulder injury.

"It was a good step," Albers said. "At least one more outing, maybe two, and then we'll see."

Albers posted a 3.45 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP in 25 appearances before his injury. His progress comes as Brewers officials weigh the merits of trading for a reliever ahead of the non-waiver Trade Deadline.

• First baseman/outfielder Eric Thames was on the field for batting practice for a third straight day Saturday, a good sign he's making progress in a comeback from a right hamstring strain. Thames is eligible to come off the 10-day DL on Tuesday.

Jonathan Villar has not done any hitting since the Brewers placed him on the disabled list just before the All-Star break with a right thumb injury. It's unclear when Villar will be back, which is notable because the Brewers are in the market for middle infielders after finishing as runner-up for Manny Machado before he was traded to the Dodgers.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Milwaukee Brewers, Ryan Braun, Jacob Nottingham

Crew can't rally after Aguilar's NL-best 25th HR

Yelich's 2-run triple in 9th inning makes LA sweat in opener
MLB.com

MILWAUKEE -- "We got to press stop," manager Craig Counsell said on Friday afternoon, "and now we get to press start again."

Unfortunately, that meant the Brewers were stuck in the same part of the plot when they returned from the All-Star break with a 6-4 loss to Manny Machado and the Dodgers at Miller Park. The defeat, despite Jesus Aguilar's National League-leading 25th home run and a three-hit, three-RBI night for fellow All-Star Christian Yelich, was Milwaukee's seventh in a row and eighth in nine games to continue a funk that began in Miami and Pittsburgh before the break.

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MILWAUKEE -- "We got to press stop," manager Craig Counsell said on Friday afternoon, "and now we get to press start again."

Unfortunately, that meant the Brewers were stuck in the same part of the plot when they returned from the All-Star break with a 6-4 loss to Manny Machado and the Dodgers at Miller Park. The defeat, despite Jesus Aguilar's National League-leading 25th home run and a three-hit, three-RBI night for fellow All-Star Christian Yelich, was Milwaukee's seventh in a row and eighth in nine games to continue a funk that began in Miami and Pittsburgh before the break.

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It doesn't get easier. Friday was the Brewers' first of 17 straight games against teams that hit the All-Star break with winning records.

"There's a little sense of urgency, but it's not like we're just flat-out playing bad baseball," Wade Miley said after pitching six innings without an earned run. "This game's hard. We just have to keep grinding away, chipping away, and things will turn around."

Machado tallied two hits and two walks against the team that reportedly finished runner-up in trade talks with the Orioles, including a single in a go-ahead seventh inning against Brewers reliever Taylor Williams. Enrique Hernandez delivered the Dodgers' most important hit of the night in the ninth with a two-out, three-run home run off Brandon Woodruff.

Video: LAD@MIL: Yelich drives in 2 with a triple to right

The Brewers' offense came from two of their All-Stars. Aguilar's solo home run in the eighth inning briefly cut the deficit to 3-2, and Yelich led the way with a pair of doubles and his third triple. The triple came with two out in the ninth against Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen, scoring two runs and bringing Aguilar to the plate representing the potential tying run.

Jansen struck him out with a cutter atop the strike zone.

"I think it's just been a little bit of everything," Yelich said of the Brewers' recent slide. "I think we've scored runs in a loss, we haven't scored runs in a loss, had leads in a loss. It's been tough for us, but you're going to go through these stretches.

"Obviously, we didn't get off to the start we wanted in the second half, but you've just got to keep grinding, keep plugging away."

Including the Dodgers' damage against Williams and Woodruff, Brewers relievers are 0-4 with a 6.06 ERA while the team has lost eight of its last nine games. But the blame falls equally on an offense that has averaged 3.78 runs per game in that stretch.

Video: LAD@MIL: Counsell talks Miley, baserunning blunders

Having first baseman Eric Thames and outfielder Ryan Braun on the 10-day disabled list hasn't helped, and Braun is due back on Saturday from a rib-cage injury. General manager David Stearns tried to add the best bat available on the trade market, but he was unwilling to part with the club's top pitching prospects, including Corbin Burnes, to complete a deal with the O's.

"I think we're in need of offense," Counsell said. "We're missing some guys, but I also think that can't be the excuse to not score runs. We have to find a way to have good at-bats and to limit our mistakes. When you have a little less margin for error, the mistakes get highlighted a little bit. They did tonight."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Out at second: Two moments in the Brewers' half of the fifth inning turned the game toward the Dodgers. The first was a rare "eight unassisted" in the scorebook, produced when Miley pulled back a bunt attempt and slashed a single up the middle, putting Manny Pina in motion from second base and Keon Broxton from first. Thinking Pina would score on the play, Broxton rounded second and was caught in-between -- a mistake "we can't make," Counsell said. Hernandez ran all the way in from center field and tagged Broxton out. More >

Video: LAD@MIL: Hernandez runs in from center to tag Broxton

"It was a big play," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "[Hernandez] has really good feel around the diamond, and that play to keep his head up and get the trail runner, that was a big out."

Out at home: It was a big out because of what came next. Hill struck out Lorenzo Cain for the second out of the inning before Yelich lined his second double of the night to the right-center field gap. Pina scored, and with two out, third-base coach Ed Sedar sent the slow-footed Miley, too. He was out in a close play at home, and the teams headed to the sixth inning tied at 2.

Video: LAD@MIL: Kemp, Forsythe combine to nab Miley at home

"I thought I had it," Miley said. "That was a good relay. It doesn't help that I'm so slow."

With Miley running and Aguilar on deck, was it the right play?

"It doesn't matter who's running. It was a close play that they executed perfectly. It's absolutely the right play with two outs," Counsell said. "They executed a very good play. They were perfect. Jesus is not perfect. That was a good play."

HE SAID IT
"It's obviously a different day, a unique day, but I wouldn't say ''draining.' I think once the game started, everybody got back to just playing baseball and focusing on what we needed to do. I don't think any of the other stuff really had any impact." -- Yelich, asked whether it was a draining day, considering it began with Josh Hader addressing the team about his old tweets unearthed during the All-Star Game

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Brewers briefly delayed the Dodgers' go-ahead rally in the seventh inning thanks to a Broxton-to-Hernan Perez-to-Pina relay on Chase Utley's pinch-hit double to cut down Yasmani Grandal trying to score from first base in a 1-1 game. Roberts requested a pair of reviews -- both of the call itself, and to examine whether Pina violated the blocking rule at home plate. After a brief review, the out call was confirmed.

Video: LAD@MIL: Perez fires home to nab Grandal in the 7th

UP NEXT
Chase Anderson, the only right-hander among the six scheduled starters for the Dodgers and Brewers in this series, takes the mound for Milwaukee at 6:10 p.m. CT on Saturday at Miller Park opposite Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw. Anderson has struggled with the long ball this season, but he's also held opponents to a .219 average (82-for-375), good for ninth best in the National League. In 12 starts against Milwaukee, Kershaw has a 2.95 ERA and 88 strikeouts versus 22 walks.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Milwaukee Brewers, Jesus Aguilar, Wade Miley, Christian Yelich

Brewers shifting focus in post-Machado market

Milwaukee still looking for infield, starting pitching help
MLB.com

MILWAUKEE -- What's next for the Brewers after losing the Manny Machado sweepstakes? Trying to contain him at the plate.

Not only did they miss out on an All-Star caliber middle infielder -- a pursuit confirmed by Brewers GM David Stearns on Thursday -- but the Brewers have to play Machado's new club, the Dodgers, seven times over the next two weeks. Machado is expected to make his Dodgers debut on Friday night at Miller Park.

MILWAUKEE -- What's next for the Brewers after losing the Manny Machado sweepstakes? Trying to contain him at the plate.

Not only did they miss out on an All-Star caliber middle infielder -- a pursuit confirmed by Brewers GM David Stearns on Thursday -- but the Brewers have to play Machado's new club, the Dodgers, seven times over the next two weeks. Machado is expected to make his Dodgers debut on Friday night at Miller Park.

"The [opponent] gets a good player before you play them -- I think that's where the disappointment lies as much as anything," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "But that's going to happen over the next two weeks for a lot of teams. Players are changing teams the next two weeks, and we're going to see it a lot. I'm sure we'll see some other new names as we go into series."

Stearns confirmed reports that Milwaukee made one of the top offers to Baltimore for Machado. Asked what's next, he joked that he was "going to take the next two weeks off, let Craig do his thing and see what happens."

In truth, Stearns will keep shopping. The Brewers need offense on the middle infield and potentially at catcher. Stearns also didn't rule out shifting his focus to pitching as the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches.

"There are a lot of on-going discussions this time of year," Stearns said. "Machado is probably going to be the best player traded this Deadline. I think that's probably going to be the reality, but that doesn't mean there aren't other players out there who can potentially help us, and we're going to see if we can find a fit for a deal somewhere."

The Brewers have been linked to several Twins infielders, including second baseman Brian Dozier. Despite entering the season looking to repeat their 2017 success, the Twins find themselves 7 1/2 games behind the Indians in the American League Central and will likely be sellers at the non-waiver Trade Deadline.

Dozier would fill a need at second base, with Jonathan Villar on the 10-day disabled list and inconsistent options in Nate Orf, Hernan Perez and Brad Miller. While Dozier is having the worst season of his seven-year career with a .230 average, his pop (16 homers) and run-producing ability (48 RBIs) would be welcomed in the middle of the Brewers' lineup.

Other infield options include Dozier's teammate Eduardo Escobar, who, like Dozier, is eligible for free agency after the 2018 season. Escobar has a .271/.327/.507 slash line with 14 homers and a Major League-leading 35 doubles. The Brewers have also shown interest dating to last winter in Royals utility man Whit Merrifield.

Other infielders who could be traded: All-Star Scooter Gennett of the Reds, the Orioles' Jonathan Schoop and Mets' Asdrubal Cabrera.

If the Brewers use the prospects they planned to send to the Orioles for Machado on a pitcher, potential trade targets include Toronto's J.A. Happ, Texas' Cole Hamels, Miami's Dan Straily, San Diego's Tyson Ross and Tampa Bay's Nathan Eovaldi.

And with the A's acquiring Jeurys Familia from the Mets on Saturday, Zach Britton of the Orioles is the top reliever on the market.

"The Dodgers made a good trade," Stearns said. "They got a good player, they gave up a lot of talent. We'll move on and see if we can help our Major League team in another way."

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Stephen Cohn is a reporter for MLB.com based in Milwaukee. Follow him on Twitter @Stephen__Cohn.

Milwaukee Brewers

Hader issues emotional apology to teammates

Brewers reliever addresses media, club about offensive tweets
MLB.com

MILWAUKEE -- A tearful Josh Hader addressed Brewers teammates on Friday afternoon to apologize and explain as best he could the offensive tweets -- sent as a teenager -- that were exposed during the All-Star Game.

Three hours later, as the Brewers prepared to begin the second half against the Dodgers at Miller Park, those teammates had his back. As Hader stood before local media for the first time, a group that included the Brewers' four African-American players -- Lorenzo Cain, Jeremy Jeffress, Eric Thames and Keon Broxton -- filed in behind Hader as he answered questions.

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MILWAUKEE -- A tearful Josh Hader addressed Brewers teammates on Friday afternoon to apologize and explain as best he could the offensive tweets -- sent as a teenager -- that were exposed during the All-Star Game.

Three hours later, as the Brewers prepared to begin the second half against the Dodgers at Miller Park, those teammates had his back. As Hader stood before local media for the first time, a group that included the Brewers' four African-American players -- Lorenzo Cain, Jeremy Jeffress, Eric Thames and Keon Broxton -- filed in behind Hader as he answered questions.

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"This isn't me. I hope that people who I've touched and came across, they know who I really am," Hader said. "I've made mistakes. I'm not perfect. I've grown as a person. Baseball really helped me grow."

The 24-year-old left-hander expressed similar sentiments in a 2:30 p.m. CT team meeting following several hours with MLB vice president Billy Bean, who has counseled players in times of crisis as Ambassador for Inclusion -- a title now held by Curtis Pride -- and has since been promoted. Their sit-down began Hader's league-mandated sensitivity training.

Video: Billy Bean talks about Hader's apology after tweets

Hader said he did not remember writing the series of racist, sexist and homophobic tweets that appeared on his timeline in 2011 and '12, before he was drafted by the Orioles out of high school in Millersville, Md.

"I [have] regret for mistakes that I made in the past, and that doesn't resemble the person that I am now," Hader said. "That's not my beliefs at all. And it's tough, because for people that I've hurt by those tweets, that's not something I want to do."

Asked again what had changed in the past seven years to change his beliefs, Hader said, "They were never my beliefs. I was young. I was saying stuff out of just ignorance and that's just not what I meant." 

Tweet from @BNightengale: This is the entire #Brewers team in support of Josh Hader at his press conference. Hader did his first round of diversity training, tearfully apologized to his teammates, and addressed the media pic.twitter.com/rzfNVxpxmh

Bean said Friday marked the start of Hader's sensitivity training. Hader also will participate in MLB's diversity and inclusion initiatives.

"[I met] a young man who is in a tremendous amount of pain, and I sympathize for him tremendously," Bean said. "I was really proud of him today for how he wanted to convey that he feels like he let his teammates down. He wants to repair that more than anything. ...

Video: LAD@MIL: Stearns talks Hader, Machado, Trade Deadline

"I was really convinced after a couple of hours today -- much longer than we expected -- that his experience as an athlete and a professional in an integrated and diverse environment has created the person he is today."

Bean added, "We can't fix everything today."

The teammates who spoke out in support of Hader on Friday included All-Star outfielder Christian Yelich, who had the locker next to Hader's at Nationals Park for Tuesday's All-Star Game presented by Mastercard. Along with Cain, Jeffress and Jesus Aguilar, they traveled with Hader on a quiet flight home from Washington on Wednesday morning.

Video: Phillips discusses Hader's tweets, friendship

"Everything that you have known about the guy, every interaction, there has been no sign of anything like that," Yelich said. "It's something that happened and needs to be addressed. His commentary in those tweets was tough. Where we're at today in this society is far past that, and he regrets it. As teammates we need to acknowledge that it was wrong, but we also need to be there to support him because he's been there for us."

Brewers manager Craig Counsell characterized Hader's address to teammates as "heartfelt."

"He's emotional, very remorseful," Counsell said. "In [the clubhouse], really, he's asking for support. He's asking because he's hurting."

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Milwaukee Brewers, Josh Hader

Friday's top prospect performers

MLB.com

Here's MLB Pipeline's roundup of the top prospect performances in the Minor Leagues on Friday.

Pirates prospects Bryan Reynolds and Will Craig put on an impressive power display as the duo led Double-A Altoona to a 10-8 win over Reading.

Here's MLB Pipeline's roundup of the top prospect performances in the Minor Leagues on Friday.

Pirates prospects Bryan Reynolds and Will Craig put on an impressive power display as the duo led Double-A Altoona to a 10-8 win over Reading.

:: Complete prospect coverage ::

Reynolds, the Pirates' No. 5 prospect, and Craig (No. 15) each homered twice, including back-to-back blasts in the seventh.

Craig, who has put together three straight two-hit games after going 2-for-4 with four RBIs, got the scoring started with a three-run homer in the third. Reynolds' first homer of the day came an inning later, when he hit a two-run blast out to right.

In the seventh, the duo put the finishing touches on their big nights as they went back-to-back -- Reynolds then Craig -- to lead off the frame.

Reynolds, Craig go back-to-back

The multihomer games were career firsts for the 2016 Draft picks, who now have three (Reynolds) and 16 (Craig) homers on the year.

Other top prospect performances from Friday's action:

No. 2 overall prospect Eloy Jimenez (White Sox No. 1) turned in the fifth two-homer game of his career and his second of the season in a monster performance with Triple-A Charlotte. The 21-year-old, who finished 3-for-5, did all of his damage right out of the gate, collecting hits in each of his first three at-bats. Jimenez hit a solo homer in the first, came through with an RBI double in the third and then went deep again in the fifth.

Jimenez goes deep

• No. 11 overall prospect Royce Lewis (Twins' No. 1) set a career high with five RBIs for Class A Advanced Fort Myers. Lewis, who is hitting .357 through seven games since being promoted to the Miracle, hit his 10th homer of the season - a three-run blast - as part of his 2-for-5 night.

• No. 25 overall prospect Kyle Wright (Braves' No. 2) picked up the win after spinning his third straight quality start for Double-A Mississippi. Wright, who yielded just one run on two hits, threw 53 of his 81 pitches for strikes. The 2017 first-round Draft pick issued one walk and struck out five as he lowered his ERA to 3.91 and cruised through seven innings.

• No. 56 overall prospect Julio Pablo Martinez (Rangers' No. 3) homered in his third straight game with Class A Short Season Spokane. Martinez, 22, hit a two-run homer in the second inning, giving him six homers through 27 games with the Indians. He finished 2-for-4.

Brewers No. 6 prospect Corey Ray did a little bit of everything for Double-A Biloxi. The 23-year-old showed off his 60-grade speed on multiple occasions as he stole two bases and hit an inside the park homer. Ray, who also doubled and scored a run, finished 3-for-4 and has hits in nine of his last 11 games.

Ray's inside-the-park homer

Orioles No. 14 prospect Cameron Bishop spun his third scoreless start of the season for Class A Delmarva. The lefty, who threw 43 of his 64 pitches for strikes, matched his season high with eight strikeouts without walking a batter. Bishop yielded just three hits and has now given up two earned runs or less in seven straight starts, lowering his ERA to 2.74 through 17 starts (101 2/3 innings this season).

Tigers No. 23 prospect Matt Hall, who made 23 appearances out of the bullpen to begin the season, recorded double-digit strikeouts for the second time in five starts this year. Hall threw a season-high 104 pitches (67 strikes) over six innings of one-run ball. The left-hander stuck out 10, issued one walk and worked his way around seven hits for Triple-A Toledo.

Reds No. 4 prospect Tony Santillan has been dominant since being promoted to Double-A Pensacola. The right-hander, who threw six scoreless innings, is 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA through three starts with the Blue Wahoos after posting a 2.70 ERA through 15 starts with Class A Advanced Daytona. Santillan didn't issue a walk in his outing, struck out six and gave up five hits while throwing 55 of his 80 pitches for strikes. In addition to keeping runs off the board, Santillan has also posted an impressive 18-to-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio since his promotion.

• Luken Baker, whom the Cardinals selected with the 75th overall pick in the 2018 Draft, drove in a trio of runs as part of a 2-for-4 performance in the Rookie-level GCL. After going hitless in his professional debut, Baker has hits in seven straight games and is slashing an impressive .500/.536/.708.

• Hunter Stovall, the Rockies 21st-round selection from the 2018 Draft, has been consistently hitting the ball out of the yard for Rookie-level Grand Junction. Stovall went just 1-for-4 at the plate, but has gone deep in three straight games and has hit five homers through the first 10 games of his professional career.

Stovall goes yard

William Boor is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor.

What could happen in NL Central at Deadline

MLB.com

The All-Star Game has come and gone, and the non-waiver Trade Deadline is less than two weeks away. Until July 31, much of the talk in baseball will be focused around buyers and sellers, blockbuster moves and small deals and an endless buzz of trade rumors.

The National League Central might be one of the most intriguing divisions over the next 12 days. The Cubs have climbed back into first place, and they have by far the NL's best run differential. After an aggressive offseason, the Brewers' recent skid has given them more reason to make another big splash. The Cardinals ousted manager Mike Matheny, but will they shake up their roster?

The All-Star Game has come and gone, and the non-waiver Trade Deadline is less than two weeks away. Until July 31, much of the talk in baseball will be focused around buyers and sellers, blockbuster moves and small deals and an endless buzz of trade rumors.

The National League Central might be one of the most intriguing divisions over the next 12 days. The Cubs have climbed back into first place, and they have by far the NL's best run differential. After an aggressive offseason, the Brewers' recent skid has given them more reason to make another big splash. The Cardinals ousted manager Mike Matheny, but will they shake up their roster?

The Pirates are in a different place than they were two weeks ago, now standing within one game of .500 and 5 1/2 games back in the race for the second NL Wild Card spot. The Reds are 40-38 under interim manager Jim Riggleman, so perhaps they'll be more inclined to hang on to players previously presumed to be trade candidates.

This week, MLB.com spoke with scouts and executives to see what they think will happen in the NL Central.

CUBS
What they need to do: The Cubs will look for rotation depth, an NL executive suggested, especially if they don't think Yu Darvish is close to helping them. An NL scout noted the Cubs need more consistency from their rotation, so they should pursue a starter. That lines up with what Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer recently said about the Cubs' search for pitching. With no other glaring needs, an NL executive said, they'll likely be in the market for another back-end bullpen arm.

What they can get: The Cubs don't have a particularly strong system, one NL official pointed out, so they may not be in position to make a big move. An NL scout said their Major League depth theoretically frees them up to move someone like Ian Happ or Mike Montgomery, who might start for another club, if they wanted to pursue a bigger acquisition. They don't have a representative on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospects list, and they moved their best trade chips to get Aroldis Chapman (2016) and Jose Quintana ('17).

Video: The MLB Tonight crew discuss the Brewers' needs

BREWERS
What they need to do: One NL executive said the Brewers need pitching, both in their rotation and bullpen, along with help in the middle infield. The executive expected Milwaukee to pursue a contractually controllable starting pitcher and at least one infield upgrade. The Brewers have been relying on Tyler Saladino, Jonathan Villar, Brad Miller and Hernan Perez up the middle. An NL scout took it a step further, saying the Brewers "must" get a starter and prioritize that over a shortstop.

What they can get: An NL official said the Brewers had the necessary pieces to acquire All-Star shortstop Manny Machado, who was dealt to the Dodgers on Wednesday, even if they didn't complete the trade. The fact that they pursued Machado, the consensus top player available before the Trade Deadline, puts them in play for just about anyone. One NL scout said the Crew has the prospects and depth in their farm system to get a "high-end starter." They've also been linked to infielders Whit Merrifield, Brian Dozier and Eduardo Escobar, among others, and a number of starters, including rental lefty J.A. Happ.

CARDINALS
What they need to do: Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak recently said the club's next move was "TBD," so their direction is unclear. The Cards have underperformed, leading one NL scout to say they simply need their roster to play better. The scout said their hitters and starters are good enough to win, but they lack depth in the bullpen. Their biggest concern, the scout said, remains in the dugout following Matheny's dismissal.

Video: Cards dismiss manager Matheny, hitting coach Mabry

What they can get: Bullpen help is never in short supply this time of year, so one scout suggested they look to "the usual suspect teams" to shore up their relief corps. The Mets, Orioles, White Sox, Marlins, Blue Jays and Padres, among others, should have veteran relief help available. Lefty relievers like Zach Duke (a former Cardinal), Luis Avilan and Jake Diekman may be of some appeal.

PIRATES
What they need to do: Some in the industry believe the Pirates might be better off taking part in a multi-year rebuild, but the Bucs have said they intend to be competitive this year, and next. In that case, an NL executive said, they can't trade core players like Starling Marte and Jameson Taillon. One NL scout figured that predicament, along with their recent surge, will lead them to wait until closer to July 31 to take any action. If they're still toward the back of the Wild Card race, the scout said, they won't be "big-time buyers." If they've fallen completely out of the mix, they can move veterans, then use the rest of the season to evaluate their young talent -- including prospects like Austin Meadows, Kevin Newman, Kevin Kramer and Clay Holmes -- and determine who they can build around going forward.

What they can get: One NL scout figured closer Felipe Vazquez would bring in a haul of young talent, given the demand for young, controllable relievers, but Vazquez is the kind of core player the Pirates won't move if they want to contend next season. Their most likely trade candidates are left fielder Corey Dickerson, catcher Francisco Cervelli (if healthy), starter Ivan Nova and infielders Josh Harrison, Jordy Mercer and David Freese. One scout figured Dickerson could bring in at least one organizational top-10-caliber prospect, and thought there would be interest in Harrison, Mercer and Freese as utility/role/bench players. Cervelli's concussions complicate his future, and while Nova is a reliable veteran, he isn't the kind of front-line arm most contenders are looking for this time of year.

REDS
What they need to do: The Reds' recent run has inspired some confidence in Cincinnati, and one NL executive pointed out that they have a lineup that could contend, as long as it's led by Joey Votto, Scooter Gennett and Eugenio Suarez. However, one NL scout said the Reds need to capitalize on their short-term assets and sell. The scout said Cincinnati could flip Matt Harvey to a contender and get back as much talent as possible, then market Billy Hamilton as a fourth outfielder who could change games with his speed and defense.

What they can get: One NL scout noted that this deadline will shed light on their overall plan. If they think they can contend as soon as next year, it might make sense to keep Gennett, closer Raisel Iglesias and reliever Jared Hughes. The scout credited Cincinnati as having a strong core of position players and "a chance to have a good 'pen if they stay where they are." One scout thought they could swap Hamilton, at least, to land some young pitching prospects to eventually bolster their unproven rotation.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

Milwaukee Brewers, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals

Crew can deal from rich system to fill gaps

Brewers have top prospects to swap to address lackluster offensive production from infield
MLB.com

MILWAUKEE -- The best first half in Brewers history ended with six straight losses, and it doesn't get easier after the All-Star break.

The Brewers return to action Friday at Miller Park against the Dodgers and Manny Machado, who will make his L.A. debut against a Milwaukee team that reportedly finished as runner-up in trade talks with the Orioles. Next on the homestand are the Nationals, followed by an eight-game West Coast trip against the Giants and Dodgers. That carries the Brewers past the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline and into an August schedule that includes a critical three-city trip with games against the NL East-leading Braves, NL Central-leading Cubs and then the Cardinals.

MILWAUKEE -- The best first half in Brewers history ended with six straight losses, and it doesn't get easier after the All-Star break.

The Brewers return to action Friday at Miller Park against the Dodgers and Manny Machado, who will make his L.A. debut against a Milwaukee team that reportedly finished as runner-up in trade talks with the Orioles. Next on the homestand are the Nationals, followed by an eight-game West Coast trip against the Giants and Dodgers. That carries the Brewers past the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline and into an August schedule that includes a critical three-city trip with games against the NL East-leading Braves, NL Central-leading Cubs and then the Cardinals.

"We have to find a way to get it done in the field," said Lorenzo Cain. "We open with the Dodgers and play them a few times. The schedule definitely doesn't get any easier. We have to find a way to pull together and compete."

Reinforcements could help, and with Machado off the board, Brewers GM David Stearns will have to look elsewhere. The injury-battered Brewers finished the first half with outfielder Ryan Braun, first baseman Eric Thames, catcher Manny Pina, infielder Jonathan Villar, reliever Matt Albers and starter Zach Davies on the 10-day disabled list -- plus ace right-hander Jimmy Nelson still on the 60-day DL and facing an uncertain timeline coming back from shoulder surgery. Pina is expected back Friday.

Here's a look at where the Brewers stand with the Trade Deadline looming:

Current status: Buyer
The Brewers' aggressive pursuit of Machado, a free agent at season's end, cemented that club officials believe they have a postseason contender. Even after losing seven of eight games on a brutal road trip to close the first half, the Brewers set a franchise record for victories before the All-Star break (55) and tied the Cubs for the most victories in the NL. That, despite a long list of personnel losses that extended to poor performances from players like shortstop Orlando Arcia and right fielder Domingo Santana who were expected to contribute. Both players are beginning the second half at Triple-A Colorado Springs.

Video: Craig Counsell on Orlando Arcia being sent down

What they are seeking
Statistically, it appears the Brewers' chief need is offense. They finished the first half seventh in the Major Leagues with a 3.65 ERA -- and yes, that was fueled by a fantastic bullpen, but Milwaukee's starters ranked a respectable 10th of 30 teams at 3.87, one spot ahead of the starter-rich Cubs. Meanwhile, Milwaukee's hitters were 17th at 4.35 runs per game, with particular need at shortstop (tied for last in MLB at 48 wRC+) and second base (27th, 69 wRC+). Thus, the interest in Machado.

What they have to offer
The Brewers have a rich farm system, even after sending four premium prospects including then-top prospect Lewis Brinson to the Marlins in January for Christian Yelich. It starts with hitting phenom Keston Hiura, No. 1 on MLB Pipeline's Brewers Top 30 Prospects list and No. 30 on MLB Pipeline's overall Top 100 list. He would be tough to trade, but he's not off-limits in the way players like Prince Fielder and Braun were in years past. The Brewers would prefer to deal from two areas of relative strength: Pitching and outfielders. Their Nos. 2 and 4 prospects are pitchers -- Corbin Burnes and Luis Ortiz -- and there's also No. 9 Freddy Peralta. Burnes and Peralta are in the Major Leagues currently, and particularly prized. If the Brewers find a trade partner in need of outfielders, there's a match to be had. Santana, Brett Phillips, Corey Ray, Trent Grisham and quick-rising Tristen Lutz are all age 25 or younger.

Video: MIL@MIA: Burnes goes 2 scoreless in debut to get save

Possible scenario
MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi reported the Brewers have been in touch with the Twins about pending free-agent infielders Eduardo Escobar and Brian Dozier, neither of whom is the caliber of All-Star starter Machado, but would nonetheless represent an upgrade. Escobar has the versatility the Brewers like, including experience at shortstop, and an .834 OPS this season. The Twins' top center-field prospect, per MLB Pipeline, is 10th-ranked Akil Baddoo; the two outfielders above him on Minnesota's list, including All-Star Futures Game participant Alex Kirilloff, profile to the corners or first base. Grisham, the Brewers' No. 7 prospect, is having a tough year at Double-A Biloxi but remains a well-regarded prospect.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Milwaukee Brewers