Brewers' run of nine straight home wins halted

Brewers' run of nine straight home wins halted

Brewers' run of nine straight home wins halted
MILWAUKEE -- Mike Fiers and the Brewers had the kind of bad Friday night they can ill afford if they want to pull off a Milwaukee miracle.

Fiers regretted the early innings, both for how he pitched and how he reacted to a tight strike zone, and the Brewers' recently reliable defense abandoned them late in a 7-3 loss at Miller Park, snapping Milwaukee's nine-game home winning streak.

A 10th consecutive victory on home turf would have tied a 33-year-old franchise record and pushed the Brewers ahead of the free-falling Pirates in the race for the second National League Wild Card spot. Instead, the Brewers slipped a half-game behind the charging Phillies while also remaining a half-game behind the Pirates. Milwaukee is 2 1/2 games behind Los Angeles and 3 1/2 games behind St. Louis, which holds the second Wild Card spot.

"We haven't played this type of game in a while," said Brewers manager Ron Roenicke, whose club had not lost at home since Aug. 19. "I know it's going to happen once in a while, but we certainly need to bounce back [Saturday] and play a lot better."

Wins are at a premium, and lately had been coming in bunches.

The Brewers charged into postseason contention by winning 18 of their previous 23 games overall and 17 of their last 19 games at Miller Park, including nine in a row, matching the Miller Park record for consecutive victories at home. The franchise-record streak was 10, set at County Stadium in 1979.

"It's tough to win every one of them," catcher Jonathan Lucroy said.

Fiers struggled from the start, and at one point discussed with home-plate umpire Larry Vanover a tight strike zone. Fiers needed 34 pitches for a two-run first inning, and surrendered two more runs in the second on Daniel Murphy's two-out home run.

Between those innings, Fiers had a word with Vanover about the zone. Later, he regretted it.

"I might have over-exaggerated a little bit," Fiers said, "but there were a couple of pitches I thought were strikes. That's the game. I need to put it behind me. I shouldn't have said anything to him. ... I was all over the place, so you can't fault him for missing one here or there."

Roenicke and Lucroy didn't see a glaring problem, Roenicke saying he'd confirmed via video that most of Vanover's calls were correct, even when Fiers was hitting Lucroy's glove. Lucroy said Vanover was also tight on the low strike, though he called pitches the same for both teams.

"He actually had good stuff," said Mets left fielder Lucas Duda, who doubled home a run against Fiers in the first inning and homered off Manny Parra in the Brewers' sloppy sixth. "His fastball's really sneaky. He kind of throws across his body and he has good stuff. It was just one of those days, and we got him."

The Brewers cut the deficit to 4-2 in the bottom of the second inning and might have scored more had Travis Ishikawa's RBI double not bounced over the left-field wall. That unlucky bounce forced Carlos Gomez to stop at third base, and he was out at home when the next batter, Jean Segura, hit a bouncer to Mets pitcher Jon Niese.

Fiers added a run with his second RBI single in as many starts, but Segura was later out at home, too, again running on contact.

The score remained 4-2 into the sixth inning, when the Mets struck for three runs with some Brewers help. Duda started things by greeting Parra with a home run, and Andres Torres kept things going when he reached on an error by the shortstop, Segura.

Josh Thole cashed in with an RBI double and advanced when Niese hit a bouncer to third baseman Aramis Ramirez and was credited with a hit. Livan Hernandez took over for Parra and induced what looked like an inning-ending double play for Ruben Tejada, but Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks bounced his throw to first base for another error and another unearned run.

"They're in the hunt," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "They don't make many mistakes, and so when they do, you've got to capitalize on them. And we did tonight."

The Mets, however, were sharp. Their best defensive play came in the eighth inning with the Brewers threatening a comeback, when shortstop Tejada robbed Lucroy of a single up the middle and initiated a slick 6-4-3 double play. Roenicke called it "huge," despite the five-run deficit.

Fiers took the loss after allowing four runs and six hits in five innings. Niese surrendered two runs on six hits in six innings for the win.

The sixth inning silenced a crowd of 38,216 that was hoping to see the Brewers continue their home winning streak. It had made the Brewers the toast of Wisconsin sports fans once again, a level of popularity reinforced to Roenicke when he attended Thursday's Bears-Packers game at Lambeau Field with his wife and son.

Throughout the night, fans stopped by to wish Roenicke good luck.

"They were really nice -- everywhere I went," he said. "It just shows you how everybody's excited about what we're doing again. We're to the point where we're being talked about. Three weeks ago, I don't know if we were talked about too much."

The Brewers will try to keep those fans talking over their remaining 18 games.

"Like I told you guys, nobody expects us to be in this thing. I think we've played that way, and that's why we've gotten back again," Roenicke said. "If you start looking at every game where you have to win, I don't think the young guys are going to do well with that. We haven't gone there."

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.