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Bush delivers stellar effort in win

Bush delivers stellar effort to carry Brewers

ATLANTA -- Dave Bush could avoid some heart palpitations if he just finished these things himself.

For the second straight start, Bush was on the mound as the Brewers built a lead, and then he watched from the dugout as it nearly slipped away. But like last week at Miller Park, Salomon Torres stranded the tying runner on base asBush and Milwaukee got away with a win, this time a 4-3 thriller over the Braves on Tuesday at Turner Field.

"It's always harder to watch than it is to actually play," Bush said. "The nervousness that coaches or guys on the bench or the fans feel, it's always more than what we feel on the field."

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Five days earlier, Bush (4-7) took a no-hitter into the eighth inning and handed the bullpen an 8-1 lead in the ninth. Toronto got as close as 8-7 before Torres slammed the door. This time Bush allowed one run on just four hits in seven innings and exited with a 4-1 lead, then watched from the tunnel that connects the dugout and the clubhouse as the Braves scored two runs off Torres in the ninth and moved the tying runner to third base.

Torres retired pinch-hitter Corky Miller on a weak line drive to shortstop, sealing the Brewers fourth consecutive win and also their fourth straight road win. Rickie Weeks and J.J. Hardy each scored a run and drove in another against Braves starter Charlie Morton (1-1) as Milwaukee improved to 23-10 since May 20, the best record in baseball over that span.

"[Torres] added a little excitement," Brewers manager Ned Yost said. "It just seems like every time Bush pitches, they're going to make it exciting for him."

"It was a little nerve-wracking," Bush said. "But we all have a lot of faith in Salomon. He's been around for a long time and he's been in a lot of situations like that."

Not with the Brewers, he hadn't.

Torres set a career high with his 13th save, but for the first time worked himself into trouble. He entered the night perfect in 11 save opportunities since Eric Gagne was sidelined by a right shoulder injury, but walked the first batter he faced after falling behind, 3-0, then grooved a first-pitch fastball Mark Texeira and watched it sail over the left-field fence for a two-run home run that made it a one-run game.

"Mentally, I wasn't as focused as I should be," Torres said. "That fly ball to left field redirected my attention to what I needed to be doing."

Brian McCann followed with a single, then moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt -- Torres made a fabulous play to get the out -- and to third on a groundout.

Torres intentionally walked outfielder Brandon Jones to face pinch-hitter Corky Miller, a backup catcher with a .103 batting average. Torres fell behind, 3-0, but threw three straight strikes and retired Miller on a line drive to Hardy.

"The positive thing I can take out of all this is that when things got tough, I was able to redirect my attention, to keep the focus on and to pitch the way I've been pitching lately," Torres said. "Concentrate on keeping the ball down and letting them swing."

The Brewers will go for their first sweep in Atlanta on Thursday afternoon. They have already secured just their second series win here in Yost's six seasons, thanks to a pair of stellar starts; Ben Sheets retired the final 16 Braves hitters in order on Monday before Bush retired nine in a row to begin his own outing Tuesday night.

"He set the bar pretty high yesterday, so I'm not sure I was going to top that," Bush said of Sheets. "I just try to be consistent."

Weeks reached on the first of three Braves errors in the first inning and scored the first of two Brewers runs in the frame. In the second, Hardy hit an RBI double over the head of left fielder Jones, who badly misread the ball. Weeks made it 4-0 in the fourth inning with a sacrifice fly, with Jason Kendall scoring from third base when right fielder Jeff Francoeur's strong throw home sailed over the catcher's head.

Francoeur had not committed an error in his first 77 games, but was charged with two of Atlanta's four errors on Tuesday.

"It was just an ugly, ugly game," said Chipper Jones, who came off the Braves' bench with his sore right quad to produce an eight-inning leadoff single that went unrewarded. "Even to have a chance to tie and win the game, I don't know how we were in that situation."  

Bush didn't allow a baserunner until the fourth, when Gregor Blanco reached on an error by first baseman Prince Fielder. Yunel Esccobar followed with the Braves' first hit, an infield single that struck Bush in the back of the left foot, but was erased when Johnson hit a line drive to Fielder, who dove back to the bag to complete the first of two unassisted double plays.

Bush finally allowed a run in the seventh, when Texeira doubled and went the rest of the way on a pair of groundouts to second base. With Bush at 98 pitches, Yost went with left-hander Brian Shouse in the eighth.

Torres took the ninth, and he sure made it interesting.

"I didn't want to make it too easy for you guys," he told reporters. "I want to give you something to write about."

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

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