Crew comes up short in finale with Angels

Crew comes up short in finale with Angels

ANAHEIM -- Just as Brewers starters were getting on a roll, left-hander Chris Narveson had the kind of outing he'd rather forget.

Narveson surrendered four runs and a pair of homers in his first pass through the Angels' batting order on Wednesday and did not make it through the end of the fifth inning of the Brewers' 5-1 loss at Angel Stadium.

  • 134 wins
  • 118 wins

After outscoring their Interleague foes by a 19-3 margin in the first two games of the series, the Brewers mustered only a third-inning home run from Carlos Gomez and fell short of what would have been their first series sweep here since 1988.

It would have been a rare feat. The Angels entered the week having not been swept in their past 73 series at home. They got to Narveson early and ensured that streak would run to 74.

"It was one of those games where you're fighting to find your stuff," Narveson said.

Angels starter Joel Pineiro (6-6) had no such trouble, as he won his third straight start and nearly pitched his second straight complete game. Instead, the righty settled for eight strong innings, allowing only one run on three hits. The Brewers only had one at-bat with a runner in scoring position, but Ryan Braun followed Corey Hart's sixth-inning double with a groundout.

Pineiro retired 11 batters in a row during one stretch and improved to 4-0 in his career against Milwaukee.

"Pineiro basically did to us what [Dave] Bush did to them [Tuesday]," said Brewers manager Ken Macha, referring to Bush's 7 1/3 sharp innings in Milwaukee's 7-1 win. "He's got good sink on the ball, [induced] a lot of action to the shortstop. We won't have to face him the rest of the year, so that's the good news."

The Brewers had gotten quality starts -- defined as outings of at least six innings with three or fewer earned runs -- in four of their past five games, a stretch that began with Narveson's seven-inning, two-run performance against the Rangers on Friday and ended with Bush's outing against the Angels on Tuesday. It was the first time all season that Brewers starters were "quality" four times in five games.

Narveson's opportunity to make it 5-for-6 was over before he recorded the second out of the second inning. Angels first baseman Mike Napoli hit a solo home run in the first, and catcher Bobby Wilson delivered a three-run shot with one out in the second.

In 4 1/3 innings, Narveson was charged with five runs on seven hits with two walks and two strikeouts. He has surrendered at least four earned runs in four of his past five starts, the exception being his win over the Rangers last week.

But presented with the premise that Narveson was struggling, Macha dug deeper into the numbers. Narveson's win over the Rangers was obviously a good one. In his previous start June 5 against the Cardinals, he surrendered four runs in the first inning but followed with five scoreless innings after that. On May 31 against the Marlins, Macha wanted to pull Narveson after five innings in the South Florida sunshine on Memorial Day, but was short in the bullpen because of Todd Coffey's thumb injury. The Marlins scored seven times in the sixth inning to erase a 4-0 Brewers lead, and five of the runs were charged to Narveson.

So you have to go back to May 26 to find a truly poor outing. Narveson surrendered four runs on eight hits to the Astros in a 5-0 Brewers loss.

"He's been all right," Macha said. "He has to avoid the homers and the big innings."

Narveson did not do that on Wednesday.

"It wasn't his best day," Macha said. "He was pretty loose with his command."

Narveson paid for two missed locations. In the first inning, catcher Jonathan Lucroy set up very low for a 2-and-1 pitch to Napoli and Narveson's fastball sailed high. Napoli sent it into the right-field seats for a 1-0 lead. An inning later with two runners aboard via one-out singles, Lucroy set up on the outside part of the plate for a 2-and-1 changeup to Wilson, who had not homered in 41 at-bats over three Major League seasons. The pitch cut across the plate and Wilson connected for a three-run homer.

"It kind of came back over the plate a little bit and went right into his bat," Narveson said.

"It's a good feeling," Wilson said. "It was a hit-and-run, and I was hoping it would get out [of the park]. You don't want to hear it from [manager Mike Scioscia] if you don't hit it on the ground -- and it doesn't go out."

The lone Brewers highlight belonged to Gomez, who led off the fourth inning with his fourth home run of the season.

"[Pineiro] threw the ball wherever the catcher was calling for it," Gomez said. "I got lucky I got a home run because I've been hitting good [on pitches] middle-in and that's what I was looking for."

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.