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MIL@PHI: Brewers put up a six-spot in the seventh

PHILADELPHIA -- Up and down the East Coast, it was a most encouraging Tuesday night for the Brewers.

While Zack Greinke began a rehab assignment with three easy innings in A-ball, Randy Wolf & Co. continued to hold down the fort in the Majors. Wolf worked six scoreless innings in a 9-0 win over the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park and left the Brewers on the verge of a three-game sweep.

Ryan Braun homered off Phillies starter Roy Halladay amid another big night at the plate, and Casey McGehee greeted Halladay's replacement with a three-run home run during an 11-batter, six-run seventh that broke the game open.

But the story of the Brewers has been their starting pitching. By allowing only two hits in six scoreless innings, Wolf helped Milwaukee's rotation maintain its position as the National League's top staff, with a 2.99 ERA.

Never mind that Greinke has yet to throw his first Brewers pitch.

"Our starters have been phenomenal," Braun said. "That's what we were excited about coming into the year. We knew we were going to have an opportunity to be in a lot of games, and I think the starters, to this point, have exceeded our expectations, and that's without one of the best pitchers in baseball."

Said first baseman Prince Fielder: "They're doing awesome, and we haven't even gotten Zack yet. Once we get him, it will be an added bonus."

Wolf, Yovani Gallardo, Shaun Marcum, Chris Narveson and occasional starter Marco Estrada have been holding down the fort in Greinke's absence. Marcum pitched his second consecutive start without an earned run on Monday, and Wolf followed suit on Tuesday, holding the Phillies scoreless through six innings without his best stuff until the Brewers erupted in the top of the seventh.

He had some help from the Brewers' defense. Carlos Gomez made a running catch in the second to rob Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz of extra bases, and Braun did the same in the third to take away an extra-base hit from shortstop Jimmy Rollins. Braun's catch was particularly big because the Phils had two men on base in a 2-0 game.

Wolf has allowed only five hits in 12 2/3 scoreless innings on the Brewers' current road trip. He also beat the Pirates on April 14.

"To put things in perspective," Wolf said of himself and his fellow starters, "we have a long way to go. But I think the tone was set in Spring Training, to shift the pride level [to being] a good team instead of just an offensive juggernaut, which has been the reputation for this team.

"Obviously, the organization set the tone by getting guys like Greinke and Marcum, two big starting pitchers. [Takashi] Saito is a big pickup, too. When he's healthy, he's going to be a huge part of this team. Things like that kind of shift the momentum to where the credit goes to the whole team instead of just the offense."

It's not that the Brewers will somehow shed their offensive ifdentity and become a pitching team, Wolf said.

"We want to be a good team," he said. "This team here [the Phillies], the reason they're in the playoffs every year is they have a good, balanced, team."

Halladay was not particularly good on Tuesday. He was charged with six earned runs on 10 hits in 6 2/3 innings, marking the most earned runs he'd allowed in an outing in 23 starts dating to last June.

Braun reached safely in all four of his plate appearances against Halladay, going 2-for-2 with two walks and three runs scored. His fifth home run was a two-out solo shot to right in the third, and came one inning after Yuniesky Betancourt and George Kottaras put the Brewers on the scoreboard with consecutive two-out hits in the second.

"I'm proud of where I'm at overall," Braun said. "My plate discipline has been pretty good, and when I'm swinging at strikes, I think that I'm able to have a lot of success. When you face someone like [Halladay], it's a challenge for me, personally. I enjoy that challenge, and we, as a team, we embrace that challenge as well, on both sides of the ball."

Asked whether he simply sees the ball well against Halladay, Braun said, "When I'm going well, I see the ball well against everybody."

Mark Kotsay's RBI single in the sixth gave Milwaukee a 3-0 lead, and the visitors broke the game open in the seventh. Fielder's third single of the game made it 4-0 and chased Halladay, and McGehee followed with a three-run homer off reliever David Herndon.

Four batters later, Erick Almonte got his second pinch-hit at-bat of the inning and delivered a run-scoring single that opened the lead to 9-0.

The last time Halladay allowed six earned runs was June 15 of last season at Yankee Stadium.

"There was probably two or three pitches I want back," Halladay said. "You try and evaluate, not always based on results. I think there were six ground-ball hits. Some days those hits are right where guys are playing. Other days they aren't."

Fielder summed up the Brewers' approach: Just try to make contact.

"He's around the plate, so I think you have to be aggressive," Fielder said. "You can't be crazy, but you have to be aggressive to put the ball in play and see what happens."

The Brewers will aim for a three-game sweep on Wednesday afternoon at 12:05 CT, when Chris Narveson faces another of the Phillies' former Cy Young Award winners, Cliff Lee. Comments