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Finally, Bush delivers gem for Brewers

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McClatchy Tribune
April 21, 2010
— During the course of a long major-league season, a dozen games certainly doesn’t qualify as an eternity.

But it must have seemed like one as the Milwaukee Brewers waited for their first well-pitched game, one through nine innings.


Right-hander Dave Bush finally stepped forward Tuesday night in Game No. 13 and delivered the first gem, tossing seven shutout innings as the Brewers whipped Pittsburgh, 8-1, at PNC Park.


“Today, we put it all together,” Bush said after the Brewers captured a series opener for the first time in five tries. “That’s the kind of game we’re capable of playing.”


Bush actually had been more than decent in his first two outings, leaving with leads both times only to watch the bullpen allow them to slip away. But, en masse, the pitching staff had been mostly awful, posting a 6.06 earned run average and allowing fewer than five runs just once.


Before this romp over the inconsistent Pirates—they’re 7-6 but have been outscored, 57-13, in their losses—the Brewers’ pitching staff had not allowed fewer than four runs in a game.


“You’ve got to have pitching to win in this league,” said outfielder Jim Edmonds, who contributed hits in the first and second innings during back-to-back three-run rallies.


“We have a good team. We’ve just got to go out and play. That’s the name of the game. We definitely have the talent.”


Unlike Sunday, when starter Doug Davis was unable to capitalize on a 10-run first inning and failed to get through five innings, Bush made the quick six-run margin stand up. First, he had to get through a troublesome first inning, when a pair of two-out walks loaded the bases for the Pirates.


Bush retired Jeff Clement on a fly to deep center, then regrouped. A strike-zone pounder by nature, Bush realizes when he has location problems that it’s almost always because he’s pulling his head off during his delivery.


Sure enough, that was the problem, and Bush fixed it.


“It’s the most consistent thing I do incorrectly, if that makes any sense,” said Bush, who allowed three hits and four walks before departing.


“It was an odd game for me. There were a couple of stretches where I had trouble throwing strikes. I was able to make an adjustment relatively quickly. Pitching with a big lead gives you the opportunity to work on those things and concentrate on throwing strikes.”


Pittsburgh starter Charlie Morton lived up to the 13.50 ERA he took with him to the mound, surrendering six runs before departing without recording an out in the second inning. Bush, whose 2.41 ERA is indicative of how he has pitched in his three starts, found real trouble only one other time after the first.


That hiccup came in the fifth, when Aki Iwamura walked with one down and Andrew McCutchen (3 for 4, two doubles), singled to left. Lastings Milledge followed with a low rocket to left-center that Edmonds caught two-handed charging in, then doubled off Iwamura to end the threat.


“I had a decent jump on it but I lost it for a moment in the (ribbon) scoreboard lights,” said Edmonds. “I just ran as hard as I could to it.”


and it stayed up long enough. It almost killed me.”


Manager Ken Macha pulled Bush after he reached 96 pitches, with the Brewers holding a commanding 8-0 lead. The shutout vanished when McCutchen and Milledge doubled off Chris Narveson with one down in the eighth, but Narveson and Manny Parra closed it out from there.


“It was nice to get an early lead,” said catcher Gregg Zaun. “(Bush) was able to really execute his pitches. If it was supposed to be in, it was in. If it was supposed to be away, it was away.


“When he does that, he’s pretty successful. I thought our game plan was pretty sharp. Early on, we didn’t change the way we were going to pitch. We were able to navigate around certain guys and pitch the way we were going to pitch.”


Asked afterward if the first 12 games had tested the seemingly boundless optimism of pitching coach Rick Peterson, Macha smiled and said, “That’s a military secret.”


Then, as reporters were exiting his office, Macha blurted out, “I’m sure there was a little bit of frustration.”


Which Dave Bush finally halted.



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