Fiers strong, but Crew falls to Sox in 10th

Fiers strong, but Crew falls to Sox in 10th

Fiers strong, but Crew falls to Sox in 10th
CHICAGO -- The pitching performances in Sunday's matchup between Brewers starter Michael Fiers and Jose Quintana struck an uncanny resemblance to Friday's matchup between former All-Star Zack Greinke and potential All-Star Chris Sale.

Unlike that game Friday, the Brewers finished on the losing end of a 1-0 defeat to fall to 6-9 in Interleague Play, squandering multiple opportunities and wasting a season-high 7 1/3 scoreless innings by Fiers. The White Sox walked off with the win when pinch-hitter Eduardo Escobar ripped a pitch from reliever Manny Parra into left-center field in the bottom of the 10th inning.

"We had plenty of chances," said manager Ron Roenicke. "We're playing all these close ballgames and we're not doing little things to help us win games -- like getting a bunt down, like getting caught off the bag on a 3-1 count, like not moving a runner over from second base, like coming in and walking the first guy you face -- we're not doing the things we need to do in close ballgames.

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"I don't know if it's focus. I don't know what it is. Whatever it is, we need to do a better job."

The Brewers left four runners on base in the final two innings. Pinch-runner Nyjer Morgan was caught stealing at third base on a 3-1 pitch to end the ninth, two innings after the Brewers left Corey Hart at second base following his leadoff double.

Morgan pinch-ran for Aramis Ramirez and reached second on a single by Hart. On a 3-1 count to pinch-hitter George Kottaras, Morgan found himself too far off second base and decided to take off for third, where he was easily tagged out on the throw from catcher A.J. Pierzynski.

"Being an aggressive baserunner, sometimes you're going to make mistakes like that," Morgan said. "I saw that ball in the hitting zone and I thought George was going to make contact. It was just one of those things where I got hung out to dry and I felt like I was out there in no man's land."

After Greinke and Sale tossed a combined 17 scoreless innings Friday, Quintana and Fiers combined to throw 15 1/3 scoreless frames before Fiers left with one out and two runners in scoring position in the bottom of the eighth.

"I love games like that, those close games where one run matters," Fiers said. "It was fun. At times I got in some jams, but I was able to get out of them. I just tried to keep battling and keep my team in the game."

Fiers may have been pitching for his spot in the rotation. The Brewers will have a decision to make once Marco Estrada returns from the disabled list for his scheduled Tuesday start and Shaun Marcum returns at the end of June or early July from elbow tightness.

Just one month ago, Fiers was pitching in Triple-A Nashville. In his fifth start since joining the Brewers, Fiers lowered his ERA from 3.60 to 2.70.

"Hopefully, I can stay up here," Fiers said. "Whatever I can do to help the team, whether it's out of the 'pen or starting, it doesn't matter to me. Hopefully I'm making a good case to stay."

Francisco Rodriguez relieved Fiers and struck out Gordon Beckham and Adam Dunn to end the eighth-inning threat.

Fiers allowed just five hits, while Quintana surrendered six through eight innings. Fiers struck out seven in that span, slapping his glove with excitement after stranding a runner on third base by fanning Paul Konerko in the sixth.

"They've got a lot of great hitters over there," Fiers said. "I thought that was a big spot, runner on third, their guy up there. It was a big strikeout and a big zero on the board. I was pretty pumped."

The White Sox nearly walked off in the bottom of the ninth inning, loading the bases against reliever Jose Veras. Orlando Hudson popped out to shortstop Cesar Izturis to prevent Veras from suffering his second defeat in as many days.

Prior to Friday, the Brewers hadn't had a scoreless extra-innings game since May 2009, but have now done it twice in the past three days.

Hart, who hit a ball off the wall Saturday, continued coming up just short of the long ball Sunday. He had a two-run home run taken away from him in the fourth inning on a leaping catch in right field by Alex Rios and roped a double off the left-field wall in the seventh.

"It was a well-pitched game on both sides," Rios said. "That catch saved us two runs. I guess that's all we needed."

The Brewers failed to move Hart over in the seventh, as Quintana forced two groundouts and a strikeout. Milwaukee recorded one hit per inning in the second, third, fourth and fifth but couldn't plate any runs off Quintana.

Norichika Aoki tried to stretch a double into a triple on a rope to right field with two outs in the third inning, but was thrown out easily at third base.

"We didn't make all these mistakes last year," Roenicke said. "We played the way you're supposed to play -- move guys around, get guys in scoring position, somebody come up with a big hit, come out of the bullpen and throw strikes, put up a zero -- we did all those things."

Ryan Braun extended his hitting streak to 18 games overall and 28 games in Interleague Play with a single in the sixth. Ramirez ripped his third double of the series in the fourth inning to increase his hitting streak to eight games.

Braun is hitting .347 with six home runs during his 18-game streak, while Ramirez is hitting .412 with three home runs during his eight-game hitting streak.

Rowan Kavner is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.