Jeffress' rare hiccup extends long night

Brewers closer surrenders run in 9th in first blown save

Jeffress' rare hiccup extends long night

MILWAUKEE -- Closer Jeremy Jeffress suffered his first blown save on a long night of frustration for the Brewers.

A 13-inning, 2-1 loss to the Cubs was there for the Brewers' taking in the top of the ninth, when Jeffress took the mound with a 1-0 lead. He was a perfect 11-for-11 in saves, and had yet to be charged with a run in a save opportunity. That was about to change.

Anthony Rizzo led off for the Cubs and took a curveball to his right leg. That was not the mistake Jeffress regretted most; instead it was the 1-0 fastball down and in to Ben Zobrist, who singled to right field. Both runners advanced on a groundout, giving the Cubs runners at second and third with one out.

Manager Craig Counsell and the Brewers had some decisions to make. With first base open, would Jeffress intentionally walk Addison Russell to face catcher Miguel Montero with the force play in order? No, Counsell decided in what he said was "a pretty easy call," preferring to have Jeffress face the right-handed Russell over the left-handed Montero.

Next, would the Brewers bring the infield in for a chance to cut down the potential tying run at home plate? Or would they keep the infield back, conceding one run on a ground ball but not the go-ahead run?

Counsell chose the latter.

"If you play infield in, they get two runs on a 'bleeder,'" he said. "That's a pretty easy one. That's standard."

Said second baseman Scooter Gennett: "The rule of thumb, being the home team, is you have a chance to come back if they tie it. You don't want to let that winning run in."

That's precisely what happened. Russell hit a ground ball to Gennett, who threw to first base for the out as the tying run scored. Jeffress stranded a runner at third, and the game went deep into extra innings.

"It's one of those things where the ball would have been probably right at me [had he been playing in]," Gennett said. "You trying to play smart rather than reckless, and we did the smart move. It stinks when the result is like that."

That sequence was not the only reason the Brewers lost Wednesday. They were 1-for-3 in straight stolen-base attempts and twice were picked off second base. Jonathan Lucroy was out straying too far from second in the fourth inning, and Alex Presley met a similar fate as Jimmy Nelson attempted to bunt in the fifth.

Ross picks Lucroy off at second

"We made some mistakes on the bases," Counsell said. "'Luc' and 'Pres' made some mistakes. But after that, we still had chances of just 'execution' at-bats to win the game."

But the Brewers were 1-for-12 with men in scoring position, including 0-for-7 in extra innings. The worst offense was in the 12th inning, when Milwaukee loaded the bases with nobody out but could not score against Cubs left-hander Travis Wood. In the 13th, the Brewers stranded the potential tying run at third.

"We had every chance to win the game by executing offensively," Counsell said. "The bases loaded, nobody out, that was the big one for me. That was the inning we really had a shot at it to end the game."

They did not get it done.

"This game is built on mistakes," Jeffress said. "You can't get them all, just like you can't win them all."

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.