After Wednesday evening's stellar performance by Phillies' starter Cole Hamels (perfect through 6 IP), who only allowed two Brewers' runs on a J.J. Hardy homer in the 7th, the Brew Crew stared into the abyss this morning, likely pondering if the ride was over.
But the Crew had their ace in the hole, Ben Sheets, and played it this afternoon...and with #6 outfielder Gabe Gross getting the nod, and responding with a pair of solo home runs to support Sheets, the Brewers managed to avoid the sweep and take the series finale against the Phillies Thursday afternoon, 3-2.
Sheets got behind early, serving up a gopher ball to Phils' left-fielder Pat Burrell in the 2nd inning; but Gabe Gross, making a rare start in right-field hit solo homers in both the 3rd and 5th innings to spot Sheets his first lead of the day...Sheets got two outs in the 8th, but served up a double to Aaron Rowand, then the RBI offering to the next hitter, Shane Victorino. Skipper Ned Yost wasted no time skipping over Derrick Turnbow and going right to Coco Cordero in the 8th, and Cordero, although allowing Burrell to double with one out in the 9th to put the tying run into scoring position, wound up finishing off the Phils to earn his 16th save on the season.
The Brewers are now 26-15, still in first, but just 4 ahead of Houston in the loss column.
Another test comes this weekend already, as the Brewers return home to Miller Park for an interleague series against former AL rival Minnesota. Chris Capuano (5-1, 2.93) gets the nod Friday evening against Boof Bonser (1-1, 4.33)...Capuano needs a good outing to erase memories of that 4 ER/4 IP outing at Shea in his last start. Capuano & Co. are hitting the Twinkies at just the right time--not only have the Twins lost their last 3 games in a row, and 8 of their last 10, but Johan Santana pitched on Thursday and will get nowhere near the pitching rubber in Miller Park. Now's the time to build on the lead in the division before heading out west.