Bullpen provides no relief for D-backs vs. Brewers

Bullpen provides no relief for D-backs vs. Brewers

PHOENIX -- Brandon McCarthy has struggled to keep his team in the game for much of this season.

He has often been on the bad end of big innings, and his 1-9 record entering Monday's series opener with the Brewers showed that.

McCarthy did nearly everything right in this one, keeping the D-backs within striking distance for all seven innings he pitched, but it wasn't enough -- he left the game with the same record with which he'd entered.

Despite the strong pitching effort, the D-backs fell, 9-3, after giving up six late-game runs.

"You'd like to take over a game right from the beginning, whether it's get a couple of runs or just shut it down all the way through," McCarthy said. "Whatever it is, you just want to be part of the team winning, and that's the most difficult thing about this."

McCarthy's stretch of the game was the reverse of a problem he has faced much of this season.

McCarthy has often set down the opposing team's offense in short order his first time through the lineup before struggling in the middle innings.

On Monday the opposite was true.

McCarthy gave up two runs in the second inning and another in the third. It looked as though he could be in for another early exit, but he settled down after that, giving up no runs from the fourth through the seventh innings, keeping the score tied at 3 for most of the game.

But it was after McCarthy left that the D-backs ran into trouble.

Reliever Joe Thatcher set down the two batters he faced in the eighth inning, and manager Kirk Gibson turned to Will Harris to finish the inning. Harris struggled mightily with his command, issuing eight balls and only one strike to the first two hitters he faced. He stayed in the game after pitching coach Mike Harkey visited the mound, but the staff's trust in him didn't pay off -- he gave up back-to-back RBI hits to Aramis Ramirez and Khris Davis, giving the Brewers a three-run lead.

"We had it set pretty good right there," Gibson said. "It didn't work out."

After the middle of their batting order could not produce runs in the bottom of the eighth, the D-backs again ran into two-out trouble.

Elian Herrera doubled and tried to steal third. He was called safe, and the umpiring crew reviewed the call. After a long delay, the call on the field stood. Gibson ran out to argue, and crew chief Ted Barrett quickly ejected him -- the eighth ejection of Gibson's career.

"It was clear and convincing on our scoreboard that his foot came off and his back foot was not on there, and that [third baseman Martin Prado] had the tag on his helmet," Gibson said.

"That should not be missed, in my opinion."

If the call had been overturned, the D-backs might have had a chance to overcome a three-run lead in the bottom half of the inning. Instead the inning continued, and the Brewers tacked on three runs on a single by Scooter Gennett and a triple by Ryan Braun.

"A lot of times, you feel like you create your luck as a team by playing hard all the time," Braun said. "When you're constantly running out ground balls, going about playing the game the right way, I feel like you create your own luck and you're in the right place at the right time.

"You never know when a team is going to bobble a ball. You never know whether an umpire is going to get one right or wrong."

Adam Lichtenstein is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.