MILWAUKEE -- Ryan Braun exited with another minor injury and the Brewers' starting pitcher failed to clear the fifth inning for a second straight night. When a team scores in bunches, though, it can overcome such annoyances.
That is what the Brewers did again on Wednesday, riding a four-run fifth inning to a 7-4 win over the Red Sox at Miller Park. In grinding out back-to-back Interleague victories over their one-time American League East rivals, the Brewers have outscored the Sox, 18-11, over the first two games of the series, while the teams have combined for 49 hits.
"I wouldn't want to pitch against our guys right now," Brewers starter Chase Anderson said. "Our pitching needs to step up a little bit, I would say, as starters, but I feel like we're right there. We're going to be good. Hopefully we can play meaningful baseball in August and September."
Led by Hernan Perez's two hits and two RBIs, five of Milwaukee's eight starting position players tallied multiple hits to beat Red Sox starter Kyle Kendrick, who was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket after the game. The Brewers overcame a short start from Anderson, who needed 99 pitches to navigate 4 2/3 innings against Boston's persistent lineup. Anderson limited the damage to two runs, including Jackie Bradley Jr.'s second-inning solo home run.
Rob Scahill delivered seven meaningful outs in relief of Anderson, and Jared Hughes minimized a bases loaded, no-out jam in the eighth inning by limiting Boston to only one run, but the Brewers were left searching for consistent starting pitching. Only nine times in 34 games has a Brewers pitcher delivered a quality start, the lowest total in the Majors. Despite that, the Brewers have more wins than eight other National League teams thanks to an offense that ranks third in the NL in runs per game.
"Two consecutive nights, the big inning haunted us," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "[Kendrick] put the ball on the ground where they found some holes. They bunched some hits together for the two runs [in the first inning], and then they start to mount things up in the fifth inning when we need to stabilize it in the middle innings. For the second consecutive night, we haven't been able to do that."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Double trouble: Back-to-back doubles from Keon Broxton and Eric Thames off Kendrick gave the Brewers the lead in their four-run fifth, but it was a double steal against reliever Richard Hembree later in the frame that made it a big inning. The lead runner was an unlikely one, former Red Sox infielder Travis Shaw, who originally reached base on a run-scoring fielder's choice. Shaw headed to third as Domingo Santana broke for second. Boston catcher Christian Vazquez threw to second and the ball bounced into center field for the first of two run-scoring errors in as many innings.
"That's just Travis," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "I think you'll see that from time to time. Travis can catch them sleeping a little bit, and when he does, he'll try to sneak one. They threw to the back side and Domingo, the trail runner's job is to be alert to that, he did a good job. Those were big runs."
Bradley gets groove back: After three straight games out of the lineup due to a slump, Bradley came back strong on Wednesday with the homer and a single. The center fielder spent the down time working in the cage to get his stroke back.
"Looked much better," Farrell said. "Stayed back on a breaking ball he hits the other way. Even on the middle two at-bats, where he didn't have much to show for it, I thought they were good swings, better balance, good timing, and he gets the base hit in the final at-bat, too. So hopefully this is a night for him to gain a little traction, get a little momentum and continue to build confidence for him."
Braun exits with calf tightness: The Red Sox tied the game at 2 on an odd-looking play in the fourth that offered the first clue Braun was ailing. With two outs and Vazquez at second base after a double, Mookie Betts singled to left field, where Braun made a second straight start after missing most of the previous week with a flexor strain in his throwing elbow. An MRI over the weekend was encouraging enough to allow Braun to return to action, but when he flipped the baseball back to the infield instead of throwing home for a play on Vazquez, it was clear he was less than 100 percent.
"I'm hopeful we can get this behind us pretty quickly," said Counsell, who indicated Braun was already scheduled for a day off Thursday. More >
Red Sox: Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez will try to continue his recent hot streak when he pitches the finale of this six-game road trip for the Red Sox. Rodriguez has given up four runs over 18 combined innings over his last three starts. First pitch at Miller Park is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. ET on Thursday.
Brewers:Jimmy Nelson's last outing was spoiled by a rain delay, but the right-hander will get a chance to play for his third quality start under the dome of Miller Park. Nelson (1-2, 4.83 ERA) used just 30 pitches to toss three perfect innings against the Pirates on Friday. He'll look to lead the Brewers to a sweep of the Red Sox, who he'll be facing for the first time in his career, at 12:10 p.m. CT.
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