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Axford asked skipper for return to closer's role

Axford asked skipper for return to closer's role

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Axford asked skipper for return to closer's role
MILWAUKEE -- Brewers manager Ron Roenicke always says his office door is open, and closer John Axford took him up on it.

Axford approached the manager last week and asked for his old job back after the Brewers went about a month with a series of closers. Axford said he took responsibility for creating some of the "chaos and instability" in the bullpen, and told Roenicke he felt ready to restore order.

"Better than him going in there and saying, 'I want to hit cleanup,'" general manager Doug Melvin cracked.

Roenicke and Melvin agreed that Axford was ready, so when a save opportunity arose Tuesday night, Axford got the call. He recorded the final out of the Brewers' win over the Cubs, then returned to the hill on Wednesday, when he closed out a 3-2 win.

Roenicke said it was a lucky circumstance that the situation Tuesday required only one out for a save. Had it been a 1-0 game entering the ninth, it would still have been Axford's save opportunity, too.

Axford got the ball in the ninth inning again on Wednesday, and although he allowed one base hit, he struck out the other three batters he faced on the way to recording saves on back-to-back days for the first time since late May.

"Maybe just that little boost of confidence last night or the boost of confidence in talking with Ron before was really what I needed," Axford said. "Just to reassure myself that I deserve to be out there."

The Brewers are hoping that Axford reestablishes himself as a reliable closer before the end of the season. He was 46-for-48 in save opportunities last season but leads the Majors with eight blown saves in 2012.

"You've still got to perform, and he knows that," Melvin said. "We've showed confidence in him, and he wants to do it. You saw [Tuesday], 97-98 mph. This isn't someone whose velocity has gone down. It's a matter of throwing strikes and gaining confidence. He showed the confidence to go in the office."

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