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Brewers win to avoid sweep; Estrada injured

By Tom Haudricourt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel –

MILWAUKEE — Even when something goes right, something goes wrong.

That’s what kind of season it has been for the Milwaukee Brewers.

On a day when an inconsistent offense erupted for eight early runs, the Brewers suffered yet another injury. Starting pitcher Marco Estrada exited in the bottom of the first inning with a right hip flexor strain, suffered while legging out a two-run double, of all things.

So, while pleased to hang on for an 8-5 victory Wednesday over the San Francisco Giants that avoided a three-game sweep at Miller Park, the Brewers were left to ponder who would take the ball five days later in Los Angeles.

Estrada already was filling in for an injured starter, Chris Narveson, lost for the season after undergoing rotator cuff surgery.

“I was pretty excited about the way he threw the first inning and then we lose him,” said manager Ron Roenicke. “So, it’s disappointing. You try to get through these seasons and you know how important it is to keep everybody healthy and we certainly haven’t been able to do that.”

Estrada suffered the injury when he slowed coming out of the batter’s box, thinking his liner would be caught by Giants third baseman Joaquin Arias, then restarted when it got by. He expressed hope that an MRI scheduled later would reveal no significant damage.

“Hopefully, it’s nothing serious,” he said. “Hopefully, we get some positive feedback. I hope I feel better by tomorrow. I’m going to try to not miss anything; I want to keep pitching. Obviously, it took me out of the game, but I really hope I’m going to be OK.

“The bullpen came in today and did a great job. You have to tip your hat to those guys. They did an amazing job.”

In the likely event that Estrada will have to miss his next start, the Brewers probably will have to place him on the 15-day DL and summon another pitcher. But right-hander Wily Peralta, the organization’s top prospect, is struggling at Class AAA Nashville (1-5, 5.63 ERA) and doesn’t appear ready to be summoned.

Roenicke said it was more likely that a relief pitcher would be called up and left-hander Manny Parra, a former starter, would come out of the bullpen to fill in.

“We just talked about it and with Manny, we’ll certainly look at that,” said Roenicke. “Maybe, we’ll try to piggyback somebody with him. We’ll make sure we’ve got somebody behind Manny that can give us some length.”

Estrada’s two-run double capped a six-run outburst in the first inning off Giants lefty Barry Zito. Third baseman Aramis Ramirez delivered the big blow with a three-run double as the Brewers sent six hitters to the plate without making an out, benefiting from a pair of errors.

White-hot Jonathan Lucroy boosted the lead to 8-0 in the second inning with a first-pitch, two-run homer off Zito. So, the good news was the Brewers had an eight-run lead. The bad news was that they had to cover the final eight innings out of an overworked bullpen pushed to the limit by two extra-inning affairs in the previous four games.

Pitching for the fourth time in six games, Parra struggled through a three-run third inning but gave Roenicke two innings. Appearing for the fourth time in five games, Kameron Loe allowed two runs in the fourth but also recorded six outs.

Over those four appearances, Loe threw 112 pitches, so no one on the Brewers’ staff was looking more to the off day Thursday than the big right-hander.

“It’s one of those things you have to deal with,” said Loe. “Strap it on and here we go. My arm is hanging a little bit right now, but I’ll be OK. We’ve all had a lot of work.”

Workhorse righty Jose Veras, who has been throwing the ball the best out of the bullpen lately, contributed two perfect innings, leaving Francisco Rodriguez to strand a pair of runners in the eighth and John Axford to close the deal for his seventh save.

With the Brewers’ offense going back to sleep after the second inning, the yeoman work by an otherwise embattled relief corps made the difference.

“The bullpen came in and did a great job,” said Roenicke. “It’s too bad we kind of let them back in a little bit, but they did a great job. They’ve been used a lot.

“It actually worked out really well with how they were lined up. Most of the time it doesn’t, but it really worked out pretty clean as to what we wanted to do.”

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