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Success a blessing, curse for bullpen

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MILWAUKEE -- A large part of the Brewers early-season success can be attributed to a bullpen that has responded to protecting late-inning leads associated with a winning record.

Although it's a nice problem to have, the workload could catch up with the Brewers, who have just three days off between now and the All-Star break. The Brewers currently are in the midst of a stretch of 16 consecutive games and have a 20-game stretch in June.

"If you want to win games, you want your guys that are pitching the best in there," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said before Thursday's game against the Pirates. "And, that's what we've got. I hope we continue to pitch a lot. But, we'll have to change it up sometimes."

The Brewers bullpen ranks sixth in the National League with a 3.20 ERA and a league-high 17 saves, including 16 by closer Francisco Rodriguez.

Rodriguez, who took the loss in Wednesday's 4-1 defeat by allowing three runs in the top of the ninth, and left-hander Will Smith, who has allowed just one earned run in 19 1-3 innings for a 0.47 ERA, have pitched in four of the last five games.

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

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