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Fielder drives in three, but Brewers fall

Fielder drives in three, but Brewers fall

MIAMI -- Dave Bush stood with his arms behind his back as he spoke with reporters Thursday night, perhaps out of nothing more than sheer custom. A long-sleeve undershirt wouldn't have given anything away, anyhow.

Whatever the case, it kept anyone from seeing the extent of that baseball-seam imprint he'll be carrying around for a while just above his right elbow.

Luckily for Bush, the damage doesn't appear to go much beyond that.

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"It just came back harder than I threw it in," the righty quipped after taking the loss in the Brewers' 4-3 setback to the Marlins. "That's the perils of pitching."

What might have left a more painful sting was the way Bush suffered the loss -- a three-run blast by opposing pitcher Josh Johnson that broke a 1-1 tie in the fourth inning and allowed the Marlins to withstand Prince Fielder's eighth-inning homer.

"That was a winnable game," Brewers manager Ken Macha said as Milwaukee (31-23) lost for the third time in the four-game series and fell into a deadlock with St. Louis atop the National League Central.

"[The Marlins] had their best pitcher out there and we knew we were going to have to scrap to get runs. But we hung in there -- and then we give up a home run to the pitcher. It just shows that every pitch is critical."

Johnson's blast was no cheapie -- driven to nearly straightaway center field and leaving the yard in the 410-foot range. It was his first career homer and the first by a Marlins pitcher since Dontrelle Willis went deep in August 2007.

Bush, on the other hand, gave up a homer to an opposing pitcher for the second time in less than a month. Houston's Russ Ortiz knocked one out May 19, though far less damaging than Thursday's result.

"It wasn't a very good pitch -- a fastball down the middle," Bush said of Johnson's homer. "I was trying to go away with it, but it came inside. ... That's disappointing, but it wasn't a cheap one."

Fielder's RBI triple had given the Brewers a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth, but Bush couldn't hold on. Jorge Cantu opened the Marlins' half with a double, Jeremy Hermida singled and John Baker's one-out single brought home Cantu.

Cody Ross flied out for the second out of the inning, sending Johnson to the plate.

"You figure you can get to the pitcher," Macha said.

Johnson, though, took a ball and crushed Bush's next delivery.

"It's frustrating in that situation -- you've got two outs and you're not able to end it," Bush said.

"You've got to give credit to Johnson," Fielder said. "He did it on the mound and with his bat."

Johnson (5-1) also held the Brewers to five hits over 7 2/3 innings, leaving after Ryan Braun's two-out double in the eighth. Dan Meyer came on and lasted all of three pitches, watching his third get knocked out of the park by Fielder.

"You always hope it's enough to give your team a lift to score more," Fielder said.

The Brewers, though, could get no closer. Mike Cameron struck out against Leo Nunez to end the inning, and Florida's Matt Lindstrom notched his 11th save after giving up up a leadoff single in the ninth.

Bush (3-2) wound up lasting six innings -- the first Brewers starter to do so since last Friday when Braden Looper went seven in beating Cincinnati. That took the pressure off a bullpen that had worked 20 innings in that five-game span.

He nearly didn't last anywhere close to that. With two out in the first, Bush's first pitch to Hanley Ramirez came right back at him, glancing off his pitching elbow for an infield single.

"When you're hit by a baseball coming 100 miles an hour, that's not a good situation," Bush said. "There were a few moments where I was a little bit scared."

Nor was Macha feeling very good as he and trainers jogged out to check on his pitcher.

"You walk out there and feel like you're about ready to throw up," he said.

With the way Milwaukee's bullpen has been taxed of late, it would have made things even more dyspeptic.

"We would have figured something out," Macha said. "We would have gotten some innings, but it would have been a disaster going into the [upcoming] Atlanta series."

TV cameras showed a sizeable welt right above the elbow. Other than the initial impact, though, Bush felt little pain.

After making a couple of test pitches, he signaled to Macha that he prefer to stay in. He retired Cantu on a first-pitch fly ball, then headed to the training room to put a compressive sleeve over the elbow.

"I only get to play once every five days," Bush said. "I felt comfortable enough to continue to pitch. It got progressively more sore as the game went on, but I tried not to think about it when I was on the field."

Bush's grittiness wasn't lost on his teammates.

"It was unbelievable for him to stay in the game," Braun said. "But we kind of know to expect that from him. He's a guy that wants to compete."

Macha said next Monday's day off will give Bush ample time to recover. The Brewers could skip his next turn, offering a nine-day rest, or he could be inserted back into another spot in the rotation.

Jeff Shain is a contributor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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