Arizona finishes off sweep of Brewers
John Axford briefly lost his job as the Milwaukee Brewers’ closer in the middle of last season.
At the rate he’s going this season, he might be out of the role even sooner.
Axford gave up a two-run homer to Arizona’s Eric Hinske in the 11th inning, and the Diamondbacks held on for an 8-7 win over the Brewers on Sunday to complete a three-game sweep at Miller Park.
Through three appearances this season, Axford has a 20.25 ERA.
Milwaukee scored twice in the ninth against Arizona closer J.J. Putz to force extra innings, then added a run in the bottom of the 11th but couldn’t pull even again.
“To start a season like this is tough,” said Brewers manager Ron Roenicke, who lost third baseman Aramis Ramirez to the disabled list Friday and saw hot-hitting rookie Jean Segura leave Sunday’s game with a thigh bruise. “You don’t expect to have this many injuries early and when you do, it’s hard to figure out how to cover everything.”
After surviving two long flyouts and striking out Miguel Montero in the 10th, John Axford (0-1) returned to pitch the 11th and opened with a leadoff walk to Cliff Pennington.
Hinske, hitting for pitcher Troy Sipp, crushed a 1-2 curveball for his first home run of the season.
“I had two strikes on me, so I was just trying to get it in play and try to drive (Pennington) in,” Hinske said. “It was a hanging breaking ball, I put a good swing on it and just kept it going.”
Roenicke’s bullpen was stretched thin, leading to his decision to use Axford for two innings. After the homer, Roenicke turned to lefty Michael Gonzalez.
“I’d much rather go one inning with Axford than two, but we were down to nothing in our bullpen,” Roenicke said. “If we go long, we’ve got two guys left, and both those guys are really one-inning guys, so we had no coverage in the bullpen.
“I didn’t want him to have to go back out there, but the circumstances were our bullpen was beat up and I had to put him out there, but the first inning, he threw the ball well.”
Milwaukee’s Jonathan Lucroy hit an RBI single in the bottom of the 11th against Heath Bell, but Rickie Weeks and pitcher Kyle Lohse, called upon to pinch-hit because of the Brewers’ short bench, struck out looking, and Bell earned his first save of the season.
“They put a lot of pressure on us, but they were 5-for-17 with runners in scoring position and they caught up to us,” Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said. “We played well enough in extra innings, and Heath (Bell) shut them down.”
The Brewers offense stranded 10 runners.
After seven years, the Diamondbacks finally found a way to get to Brewers right-hander Yovani Gallardo. In seven previous regular-season starts against Arizona, he was 6-0 record with a 1.02 ERA. Gallardo allowed four runs on nine hits in six innings Sunday.
“He spit the hook,” Gibson joked.
The Diamondbacks got to Gallardo in the third, scoring two on Paul Goldschmidt’s single, but the Brewers responded in the bottom of the inning with Norichika Aoki’s two-run double. Milwaukee went ahead in the fourth on Alex Gonzalez’s first home run of the season, making it a 3-2 game.
After retiring seven straight, Gallardo opened the sixth by yielding a single to Montero. Goldschmidt and Jason Kubel followed with back-to-back doubles, tying the game at 3. Goldschmidt scored on Pennington’s sacrifice fly to put the Diamondbacks ahead 4-3.
Aaron Hill’s two-run, seventh-inning homer off Burke Badenhop bumped the Diamondbacks’ lead to three. Milwaukee got one run back in the seventh before tying the game in the ninth.
Aoki had a career-high four hits.
NOTES: Arizona center fielder Gerardo Parra, who went 1-for-6 with a third-inning single, remains tied with Cincinnati’s Todd Frazier for the National League lead with 12 hits this season … Brewers opponents have scored first in the first six games this season … Since 2009, Bell leads all major league relievers with 152 saves … Segura left the game after four innings with a contusion to the left quad. He went 0-for-2, ending a five-game hitting streak during which he batted .500 (9-for-18). He had a career-high, three-hit game Saturday.Distributed by Internet Broadcasting and The Sports Xchange. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.