MILWAUKEE -- A non-call in the first inning contributed to Milwaukee starter Junior Guerra facing a rare early deficit while sending the Brewers on their way to their most lopsided loss in nearly two months.
In the opening frame of Wednesday's 12-3 loss to the Padres, with one out and runners at the corners, Yangervis Solarte beat out a fielder's choice grounder while the game's first run scored. Brewers manager Craig Counsell challenged, arguing that the runner advancing to second -- Wil Myers -- broke the so-called "Chase Utley rule" by sliding wide of second base without reaching for the bag. If applied, the new rule would result in an automatic double play, thus ending the inning.
But after a two-minute, 46-second review, the umpires decided that while Myers did violate the slide rule, he did not interfere with shortstop Orlando Arcia's effort to turn the double play. Thus, there was no infraction, and the inning continued with two outs and the Padres ahead, 1-0.
"I wasn't sure we'd win the challenge," Counsell said. "But it definitely deviated [Brewers starter Junior Guerra's] path. They're interpreting it more now than they were the first couple weeks of the season. We knew they are interpreting it more."
The rule in question is 6.01(j), which says, "If a runner does not engage in a bona fide slide, and initiates (or attempts to make) contact with the fielder for the purpose of breaking up a double play, he should be called for interference." One of the requirements for a bona fide slide, the rule says, is that the runner "is able and attempts to reach the base with his hand or foot." If a runner violates, both the runner and the batter are out.
For the first month of the season, the rule was interpreted strictly, including to the Brewers' benefit on a game-ending double play in an April win over the Astros.
"That's a challenge that there's interpretation on, like blocking the plate," Counsell said. "It's not a cut and dry, safe/out type of thing."
After the non-call, Guerra walked two batters and surrendered a two-run single to Christian Bethancourt for a 3-0 Padres lead. Guerra threw 17 pitches in the inning after the play at second base, and he was out of the game after 89 pitches over four innings -- his shortest start of the season.
"Of course I wanted the double play in that situation. That would have been perfect," Guerra said. "We weren't able to get it, and from then on, I was missing pitches in the zone. I just couldn't get the results I wanted."
Five days after he carried a shutout into the ninth inning of a win over the Pirates, Guerra was charged with four earned runs on six hits in four innings.
The three earned runs in the inning were one shy of the total Guerra had allowed in the first innings of his first 16 starts. The loss was just his second since the start of June.
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com 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.