Aramis' heroics push Brewers to wild victory

Aramis' heroics push Brewers to wild victory

Aramis' heroics push Brewers to wild victory
MILWAUKEE -- Aramis Ramirez did not just win a game for the Brewers, he rescued them from a full-blown bullpen meltdown.

So it was, after a grueling 13-12 win over the Marlins in 10 long innings on Tuesday that reliever Jose Veras, against whom Miami began its improbable comeback, smiled and marked the sign of the cross before turning to face a crowd of reporters. Manager Ron Roenicke thanked the same crowd for sticking around for four hours and 28 minutes of a game even he said was "hard to watch."

The short story of a long day: Ryan Braun hit a three-run home run and scored on a made-for-Hollywood play as the Brewers built leads of 9-2 and 11-5, only to watch them slip away. The Marlins made it a game against Veras in the seventh inning, tied it in the eighth against Kameron Loe and Francisco Rodriguez, then went ahead on Jose Reyes' solo home run off Livan Hernandez in the 10th.

The Brewers were down to their final out in the bottom of the 10th inning when Ramirez, with a runner aboard, connected for his 10th home run off embattled Marlins closer Heath Bell.

Oh, and it was 94 degrees and rising when the Brewers' Marco Estrada threw his first pitch, which might sound downright pleasant to Marlins fans but is hot, hot, hot for Milwaukee.

"I bet you I lost 10 pounds," Braun said to the media.

But the Brewers won the game.

"That would have been a hard one to lose," Roenicke said. "It was a hard one to win; it would have been real hard to lose."

The win was the Brewers' fourth straight and fifth in six games.

It began with a quality outing from Estrada, who surrendered a two-run home run in the first inning, but then held the Marlins scoreless from the second through the end of the sixth. When the Brewers scored six times in the bottom of the sixth inning -- four of the runs unearned because of a dropped catch by Reyes at second base, and three coming on Braun's National League-leading 23rd home run -- Estrada appeared well on the way to his first victory.

Thus began a long day for the Brewers relief corps.

"We've got to get our bullpen straightened out," Roenicke said. "These guys, they are good pitchers, and for some reason -- I hope it's not that their confidence is slipping a little bit, because they can really pitch. We need to get it together."

They struggled nearly to a man on Tuesday. Veras was charged with three runs on three hits, a walk and a hit batsman while recording just one out in the seventh inning. Loe surrendered four runs in the eighth inning on four hits, three of them for extra bases -- including John Buck's two-run home run.

Rodriguez, who is "out of whack," Roenicke said, entered with a two-run lead and lost it on a home run to .206 hitter Scott Cousins and a sacrifice fly to Greg Dobbs. That tying fly ball came after a costly error charged to Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks that marred Weeks' terrific day at the plate.

That eighth inning might have been even worse had Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez not sacrificed his body to make a sensational, inning-ending catch before slamming into the wall.

"We don't have anybody else who can get that ball," Roenicke said.

John Axford pitched a scoreless ninth inning before Hernandez surrendered the Reyes homer in the 10th. Hernandez picked up the win and Bell the loss when Ramirez hit an 0-1 fastball over the center-field fence.

"I let everybody down, plain and simple," Bell said. "He just squared it up and hit it out."

Bell's ERA ballooned to 6.39 with his fifth blown save in a tough debut season with the Marlins. But the Brewers were more focused on their own bullpen issues, which Roenicke addressed earlier in the day as the Brewers sat 25th of 30 Major League teams with a 4.48 relief ERA.

That ERA was 4.73 by day's end.

"They're going to get it," Roenicke promised.

Veras was just as adamant, citing a groin injury he only recently overcame, and back pain he said has quietly been plaguing Rodriguez and Loe.

"If you see everything we've been through, it's not easy," Veras said.

He also insisted the Marlins hit good pitches. Loe concurred, saying only one of the hits against him came on what he considered a poor pitch.

"We just got hit," Veras said. "Sometimes you're going to get hit; sometimes you're going to be sharp and get 1-2-3. That's the way it is. This is the big leagues, man. They've got a bat in their hands and they're going to hit."

Veras promised: "Everything is going to turn."

That turn cannot come soon enough for his manager.

"I'm worn out, to tell you the truth," Roenicke said. "I am. It's hard to watch that. There's lots of positives in there, but it's still hard to watch."

The positives came from the offense. The top five hitters in the batting order combined for 10 of the Brewers' 17 hits and drove in 10 of their 13 runs. Ramirez had four RBIs, the first two on a go-ahead double in the third inning that scored Norichika Aoki and Braun, with Braun sliding home a split-second after Aoki scored the tying run. Corey Hart and Weeks had three hits apiece.

"It's disappointing, obviously, that it even got to that point. But at the end of the day, to continue to fight, to find a way to win that game is what's most important, and that's what we'll take from it," Braun said. "But we could really go without playing five hours in 97 degree heat and 100 percent humidity. Tomorrow is hopefully a quicker game."

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.