"There's significance, but I think you have to be careful about looking at the .500 mark as such a huge line," said starter Chris Capuano, who limited Arizona to two runs in five innings despite throwing 99 pitches. "We just have to focus on winning ballgames. Obviously, we'll get over .500 if we do that."
It's hard not
to focus on .500 here in Milwaukee. The Brewers haven't finished a season with a winning record since 1992, and their 13-season losing streak is tied with the Pittsburgh Pirates for the longest in professional sports.
This year, the team is off to a 14-9 start in July and has the best home record in the Major Leagues since April 29 (26-11). Especially after last year's second-half collapse, there's a different vibe in the clubhouse.
"You mean because we've always lost?" Jenkins asked. "Yeah, I think it's a little different. I think we're excited. I think we have something good going here. I think when we step on the field we know we can matchup against teams."
Milwaukee left-hander Dana Eveland (1-0), who was called up from Double-A earlier this month, pitched two scoreless innings in relief of Capuano for his first Major League win. Matt Wise pitched two more brilliant innings, striking out four of the six hitters he retired to secure the win.
"Talk about pitching at the right time," Eveland said. "I came into that game when we were down, and I didn't have much expectations coming in. They just happened to put up a bunch of runs for me."
Lyle Overbay started the comeback with a solo home run off Arizona's Brandon Webb (8-8) in the fourth inning and Jenkins, whose controversial groundout in that same inning led to manager Ned Yost's second ejection this season, tied the game in the seventh with a solo shot, his 12th this season and fifth of July.
Russell Branyan followed with a single and moved to third on a double by Damian Miller. The Diamondbacks called for reliever Lance Cormier to face Hardy, whose first career homer at Miller Park on Monday night propelled the Brewers to victory. This time, Hardy singled to left field for the Brewers' first lead of the night, and they continued to pile on.
Chris Magruder hit a sacrifice fly for a 4-2 lead. After Brady Clark's ground-rule double prompted a call for another reliever, Mike Koplove, Rickie Weeks' grounder eluded shortstop Royce Clayton and two more runs scored, then Carlos Lee followed with a single to center field for his National League-best 84th RBI.
"I think we have a different attitude," said Hardy, who was able to atone for a third-inning error that negated a potential inning-ending double play.
"I think, earlier, when we were down late in a ballgame it was, 'Here we go again. We're going to lose the game.' Now, if we're down and it's close, I think everybody feels like we're going to win the game. We have that confidence to come back right now."
Hardy finished 2-for-4 on Tuesday, is batting .364 (12-for-33) in 11 games since the All-Star break and has boosted his season average 39 points since June 29. Jenkins went 1-for-4 and is hitting a whopping .409 since the break with four home runs and 13 RBIs. He also notched his eighth outfield assist of the season, throwing out Shawn Green in the sixth.
On Tuesday, it was another team effort, with seven different players combining on the Brewers' 11 hits and seven players scoring one run apiece. In the big seventh-inning rally, Milwaukee sent 10 men to the plate.
"Across the board, everybody has been putting better at-bats up," Jenkins said. "Our pitching has been great all year, but really it's the offense right now that's pushing us a little bit."
Facing the former Diamondbacks farmhand Capuano, Tony Clark led off the second inning with his 16th home run, and Arizona took a 2-0 lead in a second-inning marred by errors by Hardy and Capuano.
But with the bases still loaded and a 2-0 count on Clark, Capuano made the big pitch when he needed it. Clark grounded into a double play -- to Hardy, who played it cleanly this time -- and Capuano escaped further damage.
"That was a big situation to get out of," Capuano said. "At least I gave them a chance to win, and they did just that."