By Curt Hogg, Adam McCalvy and Mark Bowman
MILWAUKEE -- Perfect games are an incredibly rare feat in baseball, but a team scoring in every inning is an even more infrequent occasion. On Thursday afternoon, the Brewers didn't come close to a perfect game, but, instead, became the 19th team since 1900 to score in every inning that they came to bat of an 11-3 rout of the Braves at Miller Park.
"I feel bad, because I think I was the only guy that didn't touch base," said Brewers right-hander Matt Garza.
He was right. Every starting position player for the Brewers had at least one hit. Four different players scored multiple runs.
Garza did his part with six quality innings to win his third straight start. After missing the first two months of the season with a right lat strain, Garza seems to have found his stride, allowing eight earned runs over his last four starts.
Braves starter Roberto Hernandez surrendered the initial damage, allowing five runs over four innings in his second big league outing of the season. Atlanta dropped consecutive games to split the four-game set with the Brewers. The Braves' 'pen worked 13 consecutive scoreless innings during the first three games of this series and then surrendered six runs (five earned) in this finale.
"It wasn't our best day out there," Braves catcher Anthony Recker said. "We just weren't able to get guys out when we needed to. They did a good job of putting some good pitches in play. We had a few too many walks. It was just not a good day, but on to the next one."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Piña colada: When the Brewers traded away All-Star catcher Jonathan Lucroy at the Trade Deadline, it opened up a roster spot for Manny Pina, 29, who had been at Triple-A Colorado Springs. On Thursday, Piña delivered his best big league performance to date with two hits, including a bases-clearing double to give the Brewers a 9-2 lead in the sixth. The three RBIs were the first of Piña's career, which includes brief stops with the Royals in 2011-12.
"Pina's double, I thought, that's what kind of made you exhale a little bit," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "In the sixth, they scored two runs back to make it 6-2, and then they had first and second and they had kind of a shot there. But the Pina double in the bottom of the inning was the hit. He had more good at-bats today."
Reality sets in for an old vet: It didn't take long for Hernandez to provide the reminder he was just a short-term fix for an injury-depleted rotation that should welcome Julio Teheran back from the disabled list next week. Making his second start of the season, the 35-year-old right-hander allowed seven hits, including the three solo homers, over four innings. Two of the outs he was credited with came courtesy of catcher Recker, who notched three caught stealings, including two within the first three innings.
"It's going to get better," said Braves manager Brian Snitker, who could also welcome reliever Arodys Vizcaino and starting catcher Tyler Flowers back to his roster next week. "We've got guys coming. I think we're doing a good job of hanging in there right now with all of the injuries and stretching the organization as thin as we've had."
President Carter: Carter came into the game with the most homers at home in baseball and promptly extended that lead with his 20th homer at Miller Park this season. Despite being out front on a 3-2 slider from Hernandez, Carter muscled it into the Milwaukee bullpen in left-center to put the Brewers up, 2-0. It was Carter's 27th homer of the season, matching the most by a Brewer over the last four seasons.
"I was just trying to hit that ball, I wasn't trying to hit a homer," Carter said. "I just ended up clicking it just right and hitting a home run on it."
Aybar stays hot: One day after bidding adieu to a 14-game hitting streak, Erick Aybar produced a three-hit game, which was highlighted when he opened a two-run sixth with his second homer of the season. The much-maligned shortstop stood as one of baseball's least productive players throughout this season's first four months. But with free agency looming, he has hit .377 (23-for-61) over his past 15 games.
"He's been swinging the bat really well," Snitker said. "He's just playing really solid baseball. Since we put him in the two-hole, he's kind of gone off a little bit."
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The Brewers have scored 26 runs in Garza's last two starts, including 22 runs while he's been in the game. But outside of those two outbursts, the team has struggled to score since trading away cleanup hitter Lucroy. In their other eight games this month, the Brewers have scored 22 total runs.
WHAT'S NEXT Braves: Mike Foltynewicz will be on the mound when Atlanta travels to Washington, D.C., to begin a three-game series against the Nationals on Friday at 7:05 p.m. ET. Foltynewicz bounced back from two rough starts by tossing six solid innings against the Cardinals on Sunday.
Brewers:Jimmy Nelson will match up against the Reds' Homer Bailey on Friday night in the Cincinnati veteran's third start back from Tommy John surgery. Nelson, 1-8 with a 5.40 ERA in his last 12 starts, including four straight losses, is scheduled to throw his first pitch at 7:10 p.m. CT.