CHICAGO (AP) - The Milwaukee Brewers' bullpen made an already difficult day even worse for manager Ron Roenicke.
After starting the day by going to a Chicago hospital for back pain, Roenicke watched his relievers waste a solid start by Wily Peralta in a 6-3 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday night. Former closer John Axford, who was demoted Monday, was charged with three earned runs in two-thirds of an inning to take the loss.
Pinch-hitter Scott Hairston had a go-ahead sacrifice fly in the eighth inning and David DeJesus added a two-run single for the Cubs, who fell behind 3-0 in the second.
Roenicke left Axford in to begin the eighth after the reliever had to finish the seventh. Though he struck out Alfonso Soriano in the previous inning, Axford couldn't contain the Cubs as his struggles continued.
Axford (0-2) allowed a leadoff double to Nate Schierholtz, who advanced to third on Welington Castillo's sacrifice bunt and Luis Valbuena was intentionally walked. After Dioner Navarro drew a four-pitch walk to load the bases, Alfredo Figaro relieved and Hairston lofted a high fly to Carlos Gomez in shallow center. Schierholtz tagged up and just beat Gomez's throw at the plate.
Axford has given up six earned runs in four appearances, and it sounds like Roenicke wants to take it slow with the struggling reliever.
``We'll just keep doing the same thing and hopefully we'll have him where we can use him just clean innings,' Roenicke said, ``in the sixth or seventh innings somewhere in there and once in a while it may be the eighth, depending on what happens in the game.'
That's what Axford was expecting Tuesday, not to come into a high-leverage situation.
``Either way I should be getting the job done no matter what situation I'm in out there, but I'm not saying that's an excuse,' Axford said. ``It's definitely not an excuse. Just a tough spot to be in I guess.'
In his second start of the season, Peralta was strong. After struggling in a loss last Wednesday to Colorado, he pitched 6 2/3 innings and struck out five.
Peralta left leading 3-2 in the seventh and was replaced by Michael Gonzalez. Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo then stroked a single to right, driving in DeJesus from second to tie the game at 3.
``When you have a guy throwing the ball like that, you feel like you should get the guy a win,' Roenicke said.
Cubs starter Travis Wood pitched 6 1-3 innings and gave up two earned run and seven hits. He fell behind in the second when the Brewers took advantage of two Cubs errors to score three runs in the second.
Gomez led off with a single and scored from first on Jean Segura's double. Yuniesky Betancourt reached on an infield single and Welington Castillo, the catcher, made a wild pickoff throw to second. Shortstop Starlin Castro then made a low throw to the plate on a grounder, followed by a diving stop but off-target flip on an infield single.
A throwing error by third baseman Alex Gonzalez helped the Cubs come back in the fifth, setting up Anthony Rizzo's RBI grounder to give Milwaukee a 3-1 lead.
But the Cubs rallied to snap a four-game losing streak.
``It is very exciting to come back and win,' Hairston said. ``I think some of the younger guys this builds confidence within themselves. I think throughout the season we will learn that we can come back no matter what the score is.'
Carlos Marmol (1-1), another struggling former closer, worked a scoreless eighth to keep the game tied at 3. After a two-out triple by Segura, Castro made a diving play to his left on a Betancourt grounder to set up the Cubs' big inning.
``(Shawn) Camp was down today, so he was going to pitch in that situation with Camp down,' Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. ``Nothing but right-handed hitters coming at you, they all have great numbers off left-handed pitching. Whatever situation I am bringing him he's basically just not the closer anymore.'
NOTES: Brewers RHP Kyle Lohse is Wednesday night's scheduled starter. He allowed one run in six innings in his Milwaukee debut on Friday. RHP Scott Feldman is the scheduled starter for the Cubs on Wednesday. He gave up four runs and five hits in a loss to the Braves on Friday. ... Segura was in the lineup after missing Monday's game with a bruised left quad. He went 2 for 4 with a triple and double. ... Roenicke said he went to the hospital after his back was aggravated Monday night at the team hotel while watching a movie in his bed.
The Associated Press News Service
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