Benches clear in Brewer win
Nobody can say the Milwaukee Brewers went down without a fight in 2013.
In what might have been their most interesting game of the season, they overcame a first-inning, benches-clearing fracas sparked by Carlos Gomez to record their fourth shutout in six games against the Atlanta Braves, 4-0, Wednesday night at Turner Field.
Kyle Lohse pitched an absolute gem despite the madness, going the distance for the second time in his last three starts. He limited the Braves to just two hits while not issuing a walk and striking out five in an economical 89-pitch outing.
“Oh my gosh, was that impressive,” Brewers manaager Ron Roenicke said of Lohse’s outing. “The command was unbelievable down in the zone. He worked ahead, threw strikes. That was fun to watch.”
The fireworks popped off quickly in this one.
One out into the game, Gomez hit a booming solo home run to left off Paul Maholm. Gomez stood and watched the ball fly out initially before starting a slow jog to first base while also yelling at Maholm.
As Gomez rounded first, he also had words with Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman. He continued around second and jawed some more with Maholm as he headed to third.
Gomez rounded third and headed for home, where he was stopped about 20 feet short of the plate by Braves catcher Brian McCann. Gomez and McCann went nose-to-nose, and both benches and bullpens emptied to back their teammates.
The dust-up quickly made its way to the backstop, with Braves reserve outfielder Reed Johnson going the hardest after Gomez.
Both teams eventually parted, with the umpires ejecting Gomez, Freeman and Braves backup catcher Gerald Laird for their roles in the drama.
The game carried on without incident. Jonathan Lucroy and Aramis Ramirez grounded out to end the top of the first and Lohse surrendering a leadoff bunt single to Andrelton Simmons but nothing else in the bottom of the frame.
As it turned out, there is a history between Gomez and Maholm. Gomez was hit in the knee by the Braves’ left-hander at Miller Park on July 23—the same game Gomez had to leave early after he injured himself robbing Simmons of a homer with a leaping catch at the wall.
“I did a little bit more (than I should have), and I apologize for this,” Gomez said.
“But if you see the replay (from June), they hit me for no reason, and I tried to get it back today. It’s the only opportunity that I have, and that’s what I did. It’s nothing against the organization, the Braves. I respect everyone. I would do the same thing if I’m on the other side if a guy did like I did today—defend my teammate.”
Both Roenicke and Ramirez, who was forced from the game after tweaking his sore knee in the tumult, said they saw both sides of the situation.
Ramirez, however, thought it could have been handled better.
“You’re not supposed to do that stuff,” he said. “You just don’t do that. On both sides. You just don’t do that stuff. You have to be a professional, and that wasn’t.”
The Brewers tacked on single runs in the fourth, seventh and ninth innings. Sean Halton drove in the second with a sacrifice fly, and Norichika Aoki the final two with RBI singles.
The story on Milwaukee’s side was Lohse, who earned a $350,000 bonus two batters into his night by striking out Justin Upton looking in that first inning to reach 190 innings on the season.
From there, he set it on cruise control.
Lohse retired 20 in a row following Simmons’ bunt single until Evan Gattis’ two-out single in the seventh, with a five-pitch fourth inning and six-pitch fifth helping to leave his total at 71 heading into the eighth.
He sat Atlanta down in order in the final two innings. He finished with a 3.35 ERA and pitched 1981/3 innings in his first year with the Brewers despite signing with them on March 25. His 11-10 record could have been better were it not for paltry run support in the early going.
“Definitely got the adrenaline going earlier than expected,” said Lohse, referring first to the early dust-up.
“It felt good to go out there and establish that I was going to throw strikes, and they were swinging. The result of that is, with good defense behind me, I’m going to have a decent game. That was a little better than decent. So I felt good coming out of that.”