Parra follows familiar script in latest loss

Parra follows familiar script in latest loss

MILWAUKEE -- Brewers left-hander Manny Parra called his fastball command "consistently terrible." The team is considering giving someone else a try in September.

Parra continued to slam headfirst into some sort of maddening, mid-inning barrier in Sunday's 7-3 loss to the Padres, keeping the game close early before coming unraveled and making a sudden exit. Parra matched his season-high by lasting six innings, but he surrendered seven runs along the way and still has not recorded a seventh-inning out in any of his 16 starts.

The Brewers are thinking about a change. Manager Ken Macha and general manager Doug Melvin had what Macha called "a brief discussion" Sunday morning about September callups. The team has four young starters already on the 40-man roster in Josh Butler, Amaury Rivas, Mark Rogers and Cody Scarpetta.

"We talked a little bit about perhaps who's coming up and maybe giving somebody else a call," Macha said. "Really, in all three games in this series, our starters haven't gotten us where we need to get."

Parra, who surrendered seven runs on eight hits with four walks, went the deepest into the game of the three. Ace right-hander Yovani Gallardo lasted only 3 1/3 innings on Friday night, and lefty Chris Narveson made it three innings on Saturday. But the Brewers won each of the first two games in the series thanks to some clutch relief and timely hitting.

The hits weren't there on Sunday against Padres starter Jon Garland (13-8) and the Padres' stellar relief corps. In the first inning, Prince Fielder caught a bad break when his double bounced over the center-field fence. Had it stayed in play, Ryan Braun most likely would have scored from first and tied the game at 1. In the third inning, Fielder batted with two men on base and lined out to Padres second baseman David Eckstein, who was stationed in shallow center field as part of an infield shift.

"Clearly, that's some bad luck," Fielder said.

The Brewers' next best chance came in the bottom of the sixth inning, though by then, Parra had slipped into a 7-2 deficit. The Brewers loaded the bases with a trio of singles and chased Garland from the game. Rickie Weeks faced tough-as-nails reliever Luke Gregerson and bounced into a 1-2-3 double play, killing the rally.

"Today, the bullpen really picked me up," Garland said. "You've got to keep these guys off-balance because they're so good."

Weeks said he simply "didn't get it done," and neither did Parra (3-10), although he looked very good early. Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez connected with two outs in the first inning for a solo home run and third baseman Chase Headley led off the second with another solo shot, but Parra surrendered only two other hits in the first four innings and entered the fifth at 52 pitches.

He again came undone in a hurry.

"It's very frustrating," Parra said. "Anything that can go bad, does go bad. I'm frustrated overall with the fastball command. It's just consistently terrible. Today, it was absolutely terrible."

Parra saw his ERA tick upward to 5.65, only marginally better than his 6.36 ERA in 2009. That was the worst mark in the National League for a pitcher who worked at least 120 innings.

On this perfect Sunday afternoon under an open Miller Park dome, Parra was burned by a few misplaced fastballs, most notably to Padres right fielder Ryan Ludwick.

In the first inning, Parra started Ludwick with a misplaced fastball. He followed with another fastball and Ludwick took it for a strike, then swung through a curveball and a split-fingered fastball -- Parra's off-speed "out" pitch -- for an inning-ending strikeout. In the fourth inning, Parra retired Ludwick on a first-pitch curveball he lifted for an inning-ending flyout to left.

In the fifth, with the bases loaded courtesy of three walks, it appeared Parra would stick to the off-speed stuff. Ludwick swung over the first of consecutive splitters before taking the second for a ball. Parra followed with a fastball, 92 mph and on the outer half of the plate, but up in the strike zone. Ludwick poked it into the right-field corner for a two-run double.

"It was away, but it wasn't down like it was supposed to be," Parra said. "at the same time, as far as that one goes, you're not going to be perfect every time. That's just a good piece of hitting."

Said catcher Jonathan Lucroy: "It was up, what do you expect him to do with it? If it's down, it's probably a ground ball."

That hit doubled the Padres' two-run lead and loomed very large when Braun connected for his two-run home run in the bottom of the inning.

San Diego extended its lead in the sixth. Parra retired the first two hitters he faced, then walked No. 8 hitter Luis Durango. Garland, a .186 hitter entering the afternoon, hit a fastball for a single and Eckstein hit another for an RBI single. Parra threw consecutive splitters to Miguel Tejada, who hammered a two-run double off the left-field wall for a 7-2 lead.

"Either he hits a wall, or something," a puzzled Macha said of Parra. "That all happened fast with two outs, so we couldn't even get somebody ready to [relieve Parra]."

"I didn't hit a wall. My fastball command was terrible all day," Parra said. "And that's what came back to bite me."

Braun provided Milwaukee's only offensive highlights with a two-run home run off Garland in the bottom of the fifth inning and a harmless RBI single in the ninth. Braun's homer was his 18th this season and second in as many games after a 22-game drought.

He's apparently not interested in discussing the return of his power stroke. For the second consecutive day, Braun politely declined to talk to reporters.

"We didn't get the two-out hits," Macha said. "They made the pitches and we didn't. That basically sums it up."

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