Injury bug bites again in Brewers' loss

Injury bug bites again in Brewers' loss

Injury bug bites again in Brewers' loss
SAN FRANCISCO -- A 5-2 loss to the Giants on Saturday ensured the Brewers a sub-.500 road trip, and that was not nearly Milwaukee's most pressing issue.

Not even close.

A team that stayed mostly free of serious injuries on the way to last year's National League Championship Series now finds itself in serious trouble. A player has exited with an injury in four straight games, two of them starting position players potentially lost for the season. Meanwhile, back in Milwaukee, a starting pitcher had season-ending surgery.

When the rest of the Brewers head home from the West Coast on Sunday night, their charter flight may need ambulance lights strapped to the fuselage.

"It's brutal," said Saturday starter Randy Wolf, who managed to stay healthy but absorbed his third loss. "We have stretches and guys go through slumps, but when you have devastating injuries -- we have to try to do the best we can, but it's not like you can fix that by throwing a bullpen or taking balls off a tee. It's really hard for us."

Shortstop Alex Gonzalez became the latest mainstay to go down, felled by a significant right knee injury after delivering the Brewers' only run-scoring hit in the first seven innings of Saturday's loss to Madison Bumgarner and the Giants at AT&T Park.

The Brewers said only that Gonzalez had injured his right knee and would undergo an MRI scan Monday. He moved about the clubhouse on crutches.

It has been that kind of week. First baseman Mat Gamel tore the ACL in his right knee Tuesday -- the same day left-hander Chris Narveson had shoulder surgery back in Milwaukee -- and may miss the rest of the year. Left fielder Ryan Braun left a game Wednesday with a stiff right Achilles and is being monitored closely. Outfielder Carlos Gomez strained his left hamstring Friday and will join Gamel and Gonzalez on the disabled list before Sunday's series finale against the Giants.

Braun returned to the lineup Saturday and trotted gingerly around the bases after an eighth-inning home run. By then the immediate concern had shifted to Gonzalez, who was signed in December to be the starting shortstop and had been a Brewers bright spot so far.

He delivered a second-inning single off Bumgarner that scored Aramis Ramirez for a 1-0 Brewers lead. Gonzalez stole second base but his leg buckled when he slid into the bag. Manager Ron Roenicke and head athletic trainer Dan Wright had to carry Gonzalez off the field.

"We have to keep playing," general manager Doug Melvin said. "We have a lot of games left. It gives other people opportunity."

Has Roenicke ever experienced an injury-plagued trip like this?

"No, I haven't," he said quietly. "I'm sure it's happened to other people. It's tough."

Gonzalez's RBI hit accounted for the game's only run until the Giants tied it at 1 against Brewers starter Randy Wolf in the fifth inning and pushed ahead with a three-run rally in the sixth. The latter rally began with four successive hits. Melky Cabrera tripled and scored on Buster Posey's go-ahead single. Posey scored on Brett Pill's double. Pill later scored on a fielder's choice groundout.

"It's so frustrating," said Wolf, who surrendered nine hits for the second straight start. "Today was probably the first time I've felt normal and good, where my release point felt good. That sixth inning, I put mistakes out there and they capitalized on it. It's frustrating to have one inning really spoil what I felt was going pretty good."

Wolf was charged with four runs in six innings, with six of the nine hits and all of the runs coming in the final two frames. Over his first four scoreless innings, Wolf surrendered three singles -- none of which made it to an outfielder.

That changed in the fifth inning, when catcher Hector Sanchez and Bumgarner smacked doubles, Bumgarner's a well-struck hit down the left-field line that tied the game at 1.

"We were struggling early against Wolf," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "We were able to get some good at-bats with runners on and we got a couple of clutch hits. Bumgarner's double seemed to get us going."

Bumgarner won after limiting the Brewers to one run in seven innings. The Brewers missed a big opportunity against him in the sixth.

Leading off the inning, Aramis Ramirez was gifted second base on a popup that fell between two Giants outfielders. Ramirez took third on Corey Hart's sacrifice bunt -- he was bunting for a hit, Roenicke said -- leaving the rally to Cesar Izturis, who had replaced Gonzalez, and Brooks Conrad, fresh up from Triple-A who made his first career start at first base. Ramirez froze at third base on Izturis' popup down the right-field line, and Conrad popped out to right to leave the teams temporarily tied at 1.

Milwaukee's other chance came in the eighth inning, when former Giant Travis Ishikawa hit a long flyout to the deepest part of right field. In another park, it would have been a tying, two-run home run.

The Brewers finished 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position. With some new faces, they will try to win the series Sunday afternoon.

"It's still a really good team." Roenicke said. "We still can do some really good things this year."

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.