It was a serious statement of confidence in Dillard, who was promoted to the big leagues on May 23 and had made four previous appearances. He walked a batter, but worked a scoreless inning in what turned into a 7-1 Brewers win over the D-backs.
Dillard has not pitched since that day at Miller Park, so he'll be one of a gaggle of Brewers relievers well rested for Game 2 of a series in Colorado on Saturday night.
The Brewers bullpen will be looking to atone for a rare setback on Friday night, when Guillermo Mota and Brian Shouse combined to surrender five runs in the eighth inning of a 6-4 Brewers loss. Entering the series, Brewers relievers had a 1.03 ERA in their last 13 games, and entering the inning a Brewers reliever had not surrendered a run in 13 1/3 innings.
Dillard, 24 and the son of former Major League infielder Steve Dillard, was Milwaukee's Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2005 and reported to big league camp this spring with a 33-28 career Minor League record and a 3.41 ERA in 148 games, about half of them (74) starts. He converted full-time to relief last season at Triple-A Nashville.
The Brewers gave Dillard a look in Spring Training, but had plenty of more experienced options in line ahead of him.
"The day I got sent down, I think it was Gord [Ash, the Brewers assistant GM], who told me, 'We don't want you to be a finesse sinker guy. We think you can be a power pitcher who happens to have some movement,'" Dillard said. "I took that to heart.
"My first appearance after that, I just decided to let it go. I think I hit 95 [mph], something I hadn't done in a couple of years."
MIL: RHP Dave Bush (2-5, 5.49 ERA)
Bush seems to have found at least a temporary answer to the struggles that have haunted him this season, delivering his second straight quality start on Sunday in a Brewers victory. Bush worked seven innings and allowed four hits, with one fence-scraping home run in the first inning accounting for the only tally. The Brewers backed him with 10 runs worth of support, but Bush also helped himself by not walking anybody. He has one walk in his last three starts (19 innings).
COL: RHP Greg Reynolds (0-3, 5.72 ERA)
Reynolds struggled to find any rhythm in his last start and after five outings, the left-hander is still looking for his first big league win. Against the Dodgers, Reynolds allowed six runs, four earned on seven hits and three walks with one strikeout over five innings for the loss and his earliest exit this year. This will be his first career appearance against the Brewers and third start at home.
Russell Branyan has homered in four straight games and five of the last six. He hit a go-ahead solo shot in the fifth inning of Friday's series opener. J.J. Hardy followed with a solo homer of his own and has gone deep in two straight games. ... With its first game against Colorado in the books, Milwaukee has faced every National League team this season except San Diego. The team doesn't play the Padres until Aug. 12-14 on the road. ... The Brewers are trying to continue a string of series success. Since they were swept in Boston on May 17-18, they are 4-0-1 in series play. The tie was a four-game split against the Nationals. ... Corey Hart's inside-the-park home run on Wednesday was the first in a home game by a Brewers player since Mike Felder's on Sept. 26, 1989.
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Official game notes
Sunday: Brewers (Jeff Suppan, 3-4, 3.93) at Rockies (Jeff Francis, 2-5, 5.53), 2:05 p.m. CT
Tuesday: Brewers (Seth McClung, 3-2, 4.25) at Astros (Roy Oswalt, 4-6, 5.38), 7:05 p.m. CT