The Milwaukee Brewers who have had an under achieving first half to say the least were looking to end the first half with a win and series victory in Houston against the Astros on Sunday. Sending staff ace Zack Greinke to the mound for the second straight day the Brewers chances of winning seemed slim after a rough first inning that saw them trailing 3-0. But getting shut down pitching from that point forward the offense was able to fight back and the Brewers claimed a 5-3 victory in ten innings. The win ended the first half with the Brewers sitting at 40-45 in fourth place in the Central Division and eight games behind the first place Pittsburgh Pirates.
Greinke who threw four pitches in Saturday's game before being ejected came back and started for the Brewers. Greinke made it through the first this time but surrendered three runs in the frame while throwing a whopping 39 pitches. Greinke surrendered four hits and two walks in the inning which also included two strikeouts by Greinke. Greinke would settle down and pitch two scoreless frames but with his pitch count at 66 and pitching two straight days he is pulled in favor of Marco Estrada after three innings of work.
The Brewer offense would get a run back in the top of the second when Rickie Weeks sent a drive over the right field fence for his eighth home run of the season. The Brewers would score another single run in the top of the sixth inning when Aramis Ramirez plated Ryan Braun who had doubled with a run scoring single to center. Estrada who was originally slated to start the game held the Astros in check through the fourth, fifth and sixth innings as he allowed only one base runner on a walk in his three innings of work.
Entering the seventh down 3-2 Jose Veras kept the Astros off the board which enabled the offense to pull even in the eighth inning. Norichika Aoki led off the inning by drawing a walk and was sacrificed to second by Nyjer Morgan. That brought Braun to plate and he worked Astros pitcher Brandon Lyon for a game tying single to left center that scored Aoki and made the score 3-3. Braun wasn't done as he preceded to steal second and third base to get into scoring position. But Lyon was able to escape further damage when he struck Ramirez and Corey Hart to end the inning.
Brought on to keep the score tied Francisco Rodriguez pitched a clean eighth inning. The Brewers were unable to push a run across in the top of the ninth so manager Ron Roenicke called upon Manny Parra in the bottom of the ninth and Parra was up to the task as he continued the bullpens great work on this day as he pitched a one two three inning.
Playing another extra inning game the Brewers were able to break through with the deciding runs in the tenth because of Astros pitcher Fernando Rodriguez's wildness. Rodriguez started the inning by walking Morgan and when Morgan swiped second base the Astros intentionally walked Braun. A wild pitch advanced the runners and the bases were loaded after Rodriguez walked Ramirez which forced the Astros to bring the infield in. Hart got behind in the count 0-2 before he sent a 3-2 pitch up the middle that got past the shortstop for a run scoring infield single. Weeks followed with his third hit of the game which scored Braun for the final run and raised his average to .199 on the season.
Closer John Axford closed out the victory for save number 15 on the season but not before he made it interesting by allowing the first two hitters to reach. But with the tying runs in scoring position Axford notched back to back strikeouts to nail down victory number one on the season for Parra. It was a nice performance by the Brewers bullpen which has had a first half to forget. All together the five relief pitchers combined to throw seven innings of shutout ball and only allowed the two hits by Axford with one walk and eight strikeouts.
The Brewers will now take the next four days off before they start the second half of the season with an important nine game stretch against the three teams ahead of them in the Central Division standings. Game one of the second half is on Friday night at Miller Park against those first place Pirates.
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