Bush labors in Brewers' loss to Rox

Bush labors in Brewers' loss

MILWAUKEE -- Dave Bush might be in a bit of a pitching slump, but that's nothing compared to what's going on with the bulk of the Brewers' lineup.

The bats stayed quiet and Bush was burned by three consecutive Rockies doubles in the fifth inning of the Brewers' 4-2 loss on Wednesday, when the one millionth fan passed through the turnstiles at Miller Park.

The red-hot Rockies won their seventh straight game, while the Brewers have dropped three in a row and six of their past nine. At 33-26, Milwaukee still holds first place in the National League Central, but manager Ken Macha is getting a bit worried about his hitters.

"If you take a look at some of the at-bats, I think we have too much effort in the swing," Macha said. "Perhaps we're pressing a little bit, trying too hard."

Four of Macha's eight starting position players on Wednesday were mired in slumps and didn't break out. Right fielder Corey Hart singled in the second inning -- the only one of the teams' 11 combined hits that didn't go for extra bases -- but Hart has only three hits in his past 27 at-bats (.111). Center fielder Mike Cameron went 0-for-3 and has two hits in his past 22 at-bats (.091). Shortstop J.J. Hardy went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, including one with the tying runner on base in the seventh inning, and has six hits in his past 47 at-bats (.128). Bill Hall went 0-for-2 with a walk and is five for his past 63 (.079).

"I think I'm going to give a few days off [Thursday]," Macha said, referring to the series finale that his team must win to avoid being swept at home for the first time this season. "Hopefully we can get some of these other guys in there and maybe get our offense going."

The Brewers face their toughest test of the series on Thursday, when Aaron Cook takes the mound for Colorado, looking to improve on a 3.55 career ERA against Milwaukee. On Wednesday, the Brewers were held in check by old friend Jorge De La Rosa (2-6), the left-hander who never cashed in on his promise during a three-year Brewers career.

Casey McGehee, Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder hit doubles in the span of four batters in the bottom of the third inning for a 2-0 lead, but De La Rosa toughened after that. He allowed no more hits and only two walks through the end of the sixth and won his second straight start after beginning the year 0-6.

Four Rockies relievers combined to handle the final three innings, with Huston Street striking out all three hitters he faced in the ninth inning for his 11th save.

The Brewers scored fewer than five runs for the seventh time in nine games, including just two runs in each of their first two games against the Rockies.

"We haven't really been putting it together consistently as a unit," Cameron said. "Those things tend to happen. It could be one or two at-bats where it [comes] together. We have to continue to have good at-bats and look for good things to happen."

Working with a bruise near his right elbow from a line drive in his previous start, and struggling at times to find plate umpire Phil Cuzzi's small strike zone, Bush carried a 2-1 lead, but a ballooning pitch count into the decisive fifth inning. He had allowed only one Rockies hit before Troy Tulowitzski cut Colorado's deficit in half with a solo home run in the fourth. Bush was already over the 80-pitch mark after that inning, but he stayed in the game for the fifth because he was three outs shy of qualifying for a victory and due to lead off the bottom of the frame.

Clint Barmes sparked the decisive rally by hitting a first-pitch curveball. Todd Helton tied the game when he connected with Bush's 100th pitch, a cut fastball that drifted over the plate. The third consecutive double belonged to Brad Hawpe, who hit what Bush called a quality curveball for yet another double and a 3-2 Rockies lead. Hawpe provided insurance in the seventh with a solo home run.

Bush was out by the time Hawpe took Seth McClung deep. In five innings, Bush was tagged with three runs on five hits and matched season highs with four walks and seven strikeouts while losing his third straight decision. In his last four starts, Bush has a 6.75 ERA (16 earned runs in 21 2/3 innings).

"They fouled off a bunch of pitches and really worked him hard," Macha said.

Bush said he felt "pretty good."

"I had no ill effects from last week," Bush said. "I felt confident I could go out there and pitch, so there was no issue there. [The Rockies] made me work hard. I wasn't really able to get many quick outs. ...

"I wouldn't look at it and say we're struggling a whole lot; we're just not winning games right now. To me, there's a difference. You can lose games badly and you can lose close games. We're losing close games right now."

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