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In time of need, Fiers comes through once more

Righty gives Brewers 6 strong innings one night after club uses 9 pitchers in 17-inning game

ST. LOUIS -- In a vacuum, Mike Fiers' pitching line was good but not necessarily the stuff of dramatic fist pumps: Six innings, four hits, no runs, two walks, six strikeouts.

In context, what Fiers delivered for the Brewers in an hour of need -- again -- was worthy of the celebration that marked the end of his contribution to a 1-0 win over the Cardinals on Monday night at Busch Stadium. The Brewers called upon Fiers to deliver amid unusual circumstances for the second time in five days, and once again he came through.

"It is twice in a row where we've really needed something from Mike and he delivered," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "That means something to everybody in there [in the clubhouse], for sure. He should be proud of what he did tonight for everybody.

"He kind of got us back on track and a little normalized."

That was a good way to put it, because Fiers' last two starts were anything but normal. Twenty four hours before he took the mound at Busch Stadium on Monday, the speakers were still vibrating in the Brewers' clubhouse at Miller Park following a 5-hour, 49-minute win over the D-backs in 17 innings that was the longest game by time in the stadium's 15-year history, and one of its most taxing.

Counsell used nine pitchers, including every available reliever (Michael Blazek was off-limits after pitching 2 2/3 innings the day before) plus Monday's scheduled starter. Matt Garza pitched five emergency innings for the win, meaning Fiers would have to bump up a day earlier to pitch -- on regular rest -- Monday's series opener in St. Louis.

Because he was able to overcome what Fiers called a "sluggish" feeling in the bullpen to pitch the Brewers into the seventh inning, Counsell was able to navigate a game without using callup Tyler Cravy, leaving Cravy available to fill a hole in the starting rotation on Tuesday. Counsell was also able to give long man Michael Blazek another day off and avoid using heavily-worked Will Smith.

Fiers' last start before Monday was similarly pressure-packed. He worked on short rest against the Giants and gave the Brewers five respectable innings, buying the team time to replace an injured Wily Peralta.

"There's two ways of taking it," Fiers said of those high-impact outings. "You can feel pressured on it, or you can make yourself better by making better quality pitches. I think I did that today in certain situations where we needed that big pitch. I was able to make it today [as opposed] to in games past where that one pitch hurt us."

The Brewers have won back-to-back games for only the fourth time this season.

"Fighting through 17 innings, and then coming out here and using 4-5 pitchers, it's just a good team win, man," Fiers said. "We need to keep it up."

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast.
Read More: Milwaukee Brewers, Mike Fiers