Wild pitch leads to double trouble for Brewers
Lohse deals six innings in debut, Segura belts first career HR
MILWAUKEE -- In the positive column, there was a most encouraging outing for right-hander Kyle Lohse in his first Brewers start, and young shortstop Jean Segura's first Major League home run.
The rest went into the other column for 24,623 fans at Miller Park on a cold Friday night. They did not get to see left fielder Ryan Braun, who was scratched 45 minutes before the game with a neck so stiff he could not move his head in any direction by the end of the night. They saw cleanup hitter Aramis Ramirez exit in the fourth inning with a left knee sprain that Ramirez fears is worse than the one that sidelined him for two weeks in Spring Training. Then they saw the Brewers lose the game on one disastrously wild pitch.
Michael Gonzalez's misfire struck the umpire's mask and rolled far enough for two D-backs runners to score, snapping a seventh-inning tie and giving the Brewers a discouraging 3-1 loss.
"I don't know which one, but we got crossed up somewhere," manager Ron Roenicke said, referring to a missed signal between Gonzalez and catcher Jonathan Lucroy. "I don't know what happened."
"It was both of us," Gonzalez said. "I can't put too much thought into it. I'm going to get through this and get into a rhythm. It's going to get better."
For six innings, Lohse made it appear things were getting better for the Brewers, who were coming off a season-opening series against the Rockies in which none of the three starting pitchers made it through the sixth inning and the staff combined to surrender 41 hits -- a club record for the first three games of a season.
Lohse, fresh off a strange offseason that saw him pitching a simulated game against the Scottsdale Community College Fighting Artichokes as late as March 22, provided some hope. He recorded five of his first six outs via strikeout and then settled in for four more efficient innings, working six innings in all and allowing one Arizona run on five hits with no walks.
After throwing 22 pitches in the first inning, Lohse threw 15 or fewer pitches in each of the next five frames and finished with 87 pitches, 61 strikes.
"We needed an outing like that tonight," Roenicke said.
After working around a two-out single by striking out the side in the first, Lohse told his teammates in the dugout, "Remember that, because I won't strike out the side too many more times this year."
"I didn't want my pitch count getting up there that high that early," Lohse said. "But we got it back down enough to go through six [innings]. That was good. I feel like everything I've done has worked up to now and I could have gone back out [for the seventh inning], but there's no sense in pushing it this early."
The only run against Lohse scored in the fourth inning, when Martin Prado led off with a double. Lohse retired No. 3 hitter Aaron Hill and cleanup man Miguel Montero, then worked to a 2-2 count to D-backs first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, who poked a low changeup on the outside corner into right field for a 1-0 D-backs' lead.
The Brewers answered in the bottom of the inning, when Segura connected against Arizona starter Wade Miley for a solo home run to center field. Segura's first Major League homer came in his 180th plate appearance.
"I feel pretty good right now," Segura said. "It's a weight off me. Last year, I didn't hit any, and this year I was so waiting for that moment. I got it. I got one."
Unfortunately, it came in a loss.
Tied at 1, the Brewers turned the game over to their rebuilt bullpen in the seventh inning. Right-hander Burke Badenhop surrendered a walk, a single and a sacrifice bunt before giving way to Gonzalez, who walked the first man he faced on four pitches.
Gonzalez rebounded to strike out pinch-hitter Alfredo Marte for the second out of the inning. But his second pitch to Gerardo Parra was so high it missed Lucroy's glove entirely and ticked off umpire Chris Conroy's facemask toward the Brewers' dugout. Yuniesky Betancourt, playing only his second Major League game at first base, stood still while Lucroy tried to find the baseball.
Two runners scored, "and that was the game," Roenicke said.
"It was just sitting over there and nobody was going after it, so it was easy," said Jason Kubel, the second runner to score.
"It wasn't pretty, but we're into winning ballgames and we did that tonight," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said.
Gonzalez did not pitch well in Spring Training and has retired only three of the nine men he's faced in his first three appearances of the season. But he has also endured his share of bad breaks, including a Rockies rally in the second game of the season aided by a flying broken bat. On Friday, the loss -- and the two earned runs -- went to Badenhop.
He felt helpless on the mound while Lucroy searched for the ball.
"It's the worst, man. But you know what? What kills me more than anything is that those were Badenhop's runs right there," Gonzalez said. "I take pride in going in there and shutting things down."