Good thing, because the fan helped the Brewers finish a three-game sweep of the reeling Giants, who lost their seventh straight. Bill Hall hit a grand slam home run and set a career high with five RBIs as Milwaukee built a 6-0 lead on Barry Zito (6-8), but things got dicey for the Brewers in the sixth, when Bengie Molina answered with a grand slam in a five-run outburst that cut the lead to 6-5.
Brewers relievers Brian Shouse, Carlos Villanueva, Derrick Turnbow and Cordero allowed no earned runs over the final four innings as Milwaukee won for the seventh time in eight games since getting no-hit in Detroit last week. The lone loss in that span came Sunday in Minnesota, where the Brewers recovered from a 9-2 deficit only to lose in the bottom of the ninth.
They improved to 25-12 at Miller Park and preserved at least a seven-game lead in the National League Central, depending on results later Wednesday.
"I think we're getting that feeling back again like we had," said Shouse, who was right in the middle of the decisive out at home plate. "You can just see it: Things are going our way right now."
Brewers starter Claudio Vargas (6-1) held the Giants scoreless on two hits through five innings, but then ran into trouble in the sixth. Vargas had retired eight straight hitters before Randy Winn led off with a single, and Ray Durham and Ryan Klesko followed with walks to set up Molina for his fourth career grand slam.
"He was at 3-and-1, so I stayed with my fastball," Vargas said. "I didn't want to walk him, too."
Vargas has a history of getting out of those jams. Entering the game, opponents were 1-for-13 against Vargas with the bases loaded, good for an .077 batting average.
"It shows you how fast the game can get away," Brewers manager Ned Yost said. "You can have a 6-0 lead and before you know it, boom. [Before that], he was just really cruising. Then a base hit, then the two walks. His pitch count was still in the mid-80s and we've all seen Claudio with great damage control on the year. You're hoping he can duplicate that."
He didn't, and Yost quickly called for Shouse. The Giants put two more runners on with one out and turned to pinch-hitter Barry Bonds, who throughout his career has been about as good against left-handers (.293 average) as right-handers (.307).
"He had one thing on his mind," Shouse said. "Go up there and hit a home run."
Instead, on a 2-2 pitch, Bonds hit a grounder to second baseman Rickie Weeks, who was standing way out in right field as part of a dramatic infield shift. Weeks' unusual throw was well wide of Prince Fielder at first base, and Nate Schierholtz scored easily.
The Brewers employed the shift against Bonds throughout the series with success, holding him 1-for-6 with three walks and no home runs. But with that alignment, the Brewers essentially conceded what could have been a double-play grounder.
"You make up your mind what you want to do," Yost said. "Do you want to shorten up and play for a double play, or do you just want to go ahead and limit the damage, and with Shouse [pitching] and another lefty [due up], get the out and try to keep the inning manageable?"
Weeks' throw caromed off the wall near the Brewers' on-deck circle and rolled around behind home plate, "like a hockey puck along the boards," as Miller put it. Miller casually ambled after it, and Kevin Frandsen tried to score what would have been the tying run.
Shouse covered the plate and screamed for Miller to throw him the ball. Miller didn't hear.
"You can't hear anything," Miller said.
Enter that anonymous fan. Miller turned, saw Frandsen charging and threw to Shouse, who expected a collision.
"I was expecting the worst," Shouse said. "Right at the last second, it looked like he kind of slid a little bit, so it wasn't as bad as it probably looked.
"I really thought [Frandsen] was going to try to plow me over. You know, I'm not a very big guy. I didn't want him to get to the plate, no matter what, so my first thought was that I would lie down in front of the plate if I had to."
Added Frandsen: "Obviously, it was the wrong time and not a good situation. You play hard and this is the way it happens. It stinks."
Shouse hobbled back to the mound and stayed in the game to face another left-handed hitter, speedy Giants leadoff man Dave Roberts. With Bonds at second base representing the tying run, Roberts grounded out softly to shortstop, a call that was protested by Giants manager Bruce Bochy, earning Bochy an ejection.
Was Roberts out?
"I'm glad he was called
out," Shouse said.
The Brewers improved to 11-2 in Vargas' starts, even though the right-hander has yet to pitch past the sixth inning this season.
Zito (6-8) lost his third straight start, allowing six runs on five hits and four walks in four innings.
"There's really no explanation," Miller said of Milwaukee's surge. "We're just playing solid baseball and we're not beating ourselves."