Homers continue to plague pitching staff

Homers continue to plague pitching staff

MILWAUKEE -- An unusual occurrence from seasons past keeps rearing its ugly head at Miller Park this year for the Brewers. The story was indeed the same on Saturday in a 4-2 loss to the Cubs.

Anthony Rizzo belted a three-run home run off starter Matt Garza in the third and Kyle Schwarber added a solo shot in the seventh, giving Brewers opponents 79 homers in 52 games this season at Miller Park. Compare that to just 52 for Milwaukee hitters and the reason for the Brewers' 20-32 record in home starts to become clearer.

The trend has particularly struck Garza. The right-hander has surrendered 12 of his 18 homers allowed this season at home.

Rizzo's blast came after Garza produced outs from the first two hitters of the inning. Schwarber followed with an 11-pitch at-bat that ended with a single and then Garza walked Chris Coghlan on four pitches.

"It was really a three-hitter sequence tonight that was the problem," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said.

"I felt I had Schwarber out on a couple of pitches before," Garza said. "Coghlan, I missed a couple. [The strike zone] was tight back there. Those guys knew it and they weren't going to chase."

The deciding home run, which has vexed Milwaukee pitching all season long, came on a pitch that was well out of the zone. It was Rizzo's fourth in as many games.

"The guy is locked in," Garza said. "Fastball high and inside, he hit it out and I was like, 'What the [heck]?' Just one pitch. Like I said, that's the way the year is going."

While other teams continue to play home run derby at Miller Park, the Brewers' hitters aren't finding the seats as much as they would like. They averaged 92 homers at Miller Park from 2010-14. Reaching that number seems like a long shot with just 26 home games remaining on the schedule this season.

The lack of the long ball has dipped into Milwaukee's overall run production, too. After Saturday's loss, the Brewers have scored only 17 runs in their last 10 games.

"I don't think we're playing poorly, we're just not swinging the bats well enough," Counsell said.

"We know what's going on," Garza added. "We have a job to do, and that's come out and get better. We all know what's going on around here, but we have to come in fresh every day."

Brandon Curry is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.