Aoki comes up big for Brewers
After splitting the first two games of the series against the Chicago Cubs, the Brewers went into Thursday’s game needing a quality start from Randy Wolf. Wolf himself needed a quality start after going winless for over a month. Wolf’s struggles mirrored that of his team as the Brewers also had a dismal month of May. The Brewer left hander came through for his team and allowed one run in 6 2/3 innings. Although he ultimately did not factor in the decision, Wolf put the Brewers in prime position to win the game and the series. The Brewers managed two runs off of Cubs’ starter, Matt Garza and took a 2-1 lead into the eighth inning.
Francisco Rodriguez came on in the eighth, but allowed three hits and a two-run home run to pinch hitter Bryan LaHair. It was the second blown save of the season for Rodriquez and the third home run given up by the right hander. Rodriquez has seen his ERA balloon to nearly twice that of his career average of 2.57. His three losses are already more than his totals from all but two of his previous ten major league seasons. Much like the Brewers collectively, Rodriquez has been inconsistent all year.
Norichika Aoki led off the bottom of the eighth with an infield single and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by pinch hitter Carlos Gomez. Then, after Ryan Braun flied out, Corey Hart came through with a RBI double that scored Aoki. The Brewers appeared to be in position to win the game as pinch hitter Aramis Ramirez drew an intentional walk. With two outs and runners on first and second, Rickie Weeks continued his disappointing season with a strikeout to end the inning.
Each team failed to score in the ninth. John Axford, who pitched in his second inning, retired the Cubs in order in the tenth to set the stage for a Brewer hitter to be the hero. That hero came in the form of one Norichika Aoki. Aoki hit a lead-off home run to give the Brewers a 4-3 victory. It was Aoki’s second home run of the game and only the second time that Aoki hit a ball out of the park in his major league career. Aoki has now established himself as an everyday player in Ron Roenicke’s lineup. Through Thursday’s game, the former Japanese star is hitting .304 in 119 at bats. Aoki has been most effective while occupying one of the first two spots in the batting order.
By: Scott Kasten
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