Brewers can't duplicate walk-off magic vs. Fish

Brewers can't duplicate walk-off magic vs. Fish

Brewers can't duplicate walk-off magic vs. Fish
MILWAUKEE -- With two outs in the top of the ninth on Wednesday, Brewers closer John Axford was one strike away from giving his team its longest winning streak of the season.

Then he made one mistake, and it all fell apart.

In a 1-2 count, Axford left a fastball out over the plate to Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez, who sent the ball over the wall in right field to tie the game and eventually send it to extra innings. In the top of the 10th, Miami third baseman Hanley Ramirez capitalized, hitting an RBI single off Manny Parra to hand Milwaukee the 7-6 loss at Miller Park.

For Axford, who has five blown saves this year after just two in 2011, it's been the same story all season long.

"It's just another tough day," Axford said. "It just seems like it's one pitch. It's not like guys are hitting .300 off me; it's not like guys are even hitting .250 off me. It's just been kind of that one big hit or that one pitch I left somewhere."

Axford's blown save came one day after the Brewers' bullpen gave up 10 runs and squandered a seven-run lead to allow the game to go to extra innings. Fortunately for Milwaukee, the offense picked up the slack on Tuesday, as third baseman Aramis Ramirez hit a walk-off two-run homer to lift his team.

The Brewers weren't as lucky in the bottom of the 10th this time. First baseman Corey Hart nearly hit a leadoff home run to tie it, but it was caught on the warning track. And after second baseman Rickie Weeks doubled with one out, Marlins closer Heath Bell ended it with a strikeout and groundout.

"To come back and play the way we played today is a little light at the end of the tunnel," Miami manager Ozzie Guillen said. "The way we lost yesterday, and how much that loss hurt, to come back this way, it was amazing. It was great for this ballclub."

Wednesday's game had the opposite effect on the Brewers, especially the bullpen and its 15.43 ERA in seven innings in the last two games. Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke said he has run out of explanations for why the group has collectively struggled this season.

"If we had the answers, we'd fix it," he said. "We're just not making pitches."

The bullpen woes continued to have a direct effect on starter Randy Wolf. After being rocked for eight earned runs in his last start, Wolf was strong through six, pitching four perfect innings and surrendering just one run.

His offense backed him up, too. One half inning after Wolf allowed his first run, the Brewers slowly and meticulously carved up Miami starter Josh Johnson. Milwaukee's first eight batters reached base in the bottom of the second, as the Brewers used four singles, three walks, a fielder's choice and a groundout to score five runs.

Armed with a 5-1 lead, Wolf ran into trouble in the top of the seventh, though.

Three batters after center fiddler Justin Ruggiano led off the inning with a home run, Wolf had two men on with just one out, and Roenicke considered pulling him from the game. But considering the fact Milwaukee had blown saves in six of Wolf's appearances entering Wednesday, Roenicke wanted to make it "his game."

That plan didn't quite work out. Wolf promptly surrendered a three-run homer to pinch-hitter Logan Morrison to even the score. And with one swing of the bat, Wolf, who hasn't won since April 30 and described this season as "miserable," was left frustrated with another performance in which he felt great.

"I felt like I could throw pretty much any pitch, any time," Wolf said. "You make a bad pitch, and it goes from a good outing to a bad outing."

However, heading into the eighth inning, Wolf was still in line for the win thanks to Aramis Ramirez and his RBI single that scored right fielder Norichika Aoki. Sanchez then homered two innings later, making it the seventh time Wolf left with a lead only to record a no-decision.

The loss was tough to swallow for Roenicke, who was ready for his team to get on its first serious roll of the season. The Brewers entered having won four straight and five out of their last six, and Roenicke said he still thinks Milwaukee can use the recent success going forward.

As for the bullpen, Axford said he and the relievers are confident they can get their struggles turned around.

"It's not like everyone's just sitting in there bummed at the beginning of the game," Axford said. "We still have the same kind of routines, everyone's still excited down there, everyone's still smiling and trying to go about their business the regular way. It's just unfortunate the way things are going right now."

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