Greinke impressive, but 'pen again struggles

Greinke impressive, but 'pen again struggles

Greinke impressive, but 'pen again struggles
PHILADELPHIA -- It could have been a win-win scenario for the Brewers.

Zack Greinke pitching great a week before the non-waiver Trade Deadline in front of a plethora of Major League scouts, and a Milwaukee victory against a former Cy Young Award winner to snap a four-game skid.

But while Greinke showcased his immense talent and the offense did its part on Tuesday, the bullpen let the club down for the second consecutive night. The relief corps couldn't hold a five-run lead in the eighth inning as the Brewers lost their season-high fifth straight game, 7-6, to the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.

"The last two days have been horrendous," said left-hander Manny Parra, who allowed four runs in one-third of an inning. "It's embarrassing, disgusting. These guys play two [darn] hard, busting their butts and I just feel terrible for them."

It was the second consecutive game that entailed a bullpen meltdown for the Brewers, and it spoiled a great outing from Greinke, who may have made his last start in a Milwaukee uniform.

Starting for the first time in 11 days, Greinke shut down the Phillies for seven innings, giving up just one run on three hits, striking out five and not issuing a walk. From the middle of the third through the seventh, he retired 14 straight.

Greinke also made some impressive defensive plays and homered off 2008 American League Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee.

"That's a full package, isn't it? That really is," manager Ron Roenicke said. "That's as good a performance as you can do as an all-around job for a pitcher. We know he's a good hitter. We know he's a good fielder. We know he can pitch. And he did all of those things tonight at a pretty incredible level."

"You got to give Greinke credit, man," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "He was really going. I've seen him at times be more overpowering, but his sinker was really good and later in the game, it looked like he went to his cutter. He had command and he had everything down. He was really good."

Greinke's performance silenced questions about his health after he was scratched from his last start and the Brewers skipped his turn in the rotation. He was pulled after throwing just 87 pitches over seven innings on Tuesday, though, as his manager didn't want to push him too hard again and risk anything.

This start was Greinke's first of two before the Trade Deadline. Greinke, set to become a highly coveted free agent at season's end, has been the subject of trade rumors and multiple clubs had scouts watching him on Tuesday night.

"I thought about it a little bit. I don't really like thinking about it," Greinke said when asked if he considered that Tuesday could have been his last start as a Brewer. "It's kind of fun playing here. We've got a lot of good players. We're just not pulling out wins at the moment, which is disappointing."

The Brewers scored five runs via the long ball and tallied 12 hits against Lee. In addition to Greinke going deep, Ryan Braun, Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Gomez homered off Lee.

Then came the bullpen in the eighth. Parra surrendered a two-run home run to pinch-hitter Erik Kratz, then walked the bases loaded with two outs to bring up Carlos Ruiz, the Phils' best hitter in 2012. Right-hander Kameron Loe entered and allowed a bases-clearing double that tied the game at 6. Hunter Pence singled home Ruiz to give Philadelphia the lead.

Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon sealed the Brewers' fate with a 1-2-3 ninth.

"We're all extremely embarrassed," Loe said of the bullpen. "It's so frustrating to go from we pitch well in Cincinnati when we didn't have leads and we come here and we have big leads and we give it up."

"I don't know what's going on," Roenicke said. "I don't know why we're in this funk we're in in the bullpen. But these guys have all done the job [before]. Basically most of them are the same guys we had last year that were lights-out."

The only Milwaukee pitcher who was lights-out was Greinke, who wouldn't comment on the possibility of signing an extension with the Brewers. He also said he has never been involved in trade talks before this season, adding "it's a little different."

"I really don't want to think about a different team while I'm on this team," he said. "[General manager Doug Melvin] hasn't said anything to me about them trading me. So I'm assuming I'll still be here. Obviously, something could happen. But I enjoy playing here. I don't really look forward to being traded from this place. But it could happen. It's just baseball. I won't take it personally if it happens."

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