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MIA@MIL: Aoki's bunt gives the Brewers the lead

MILWAUKEE -- You could smell the squeeze all the way to South Beach, but the Marlins still couldn't stop it.

On a big night for Brewers pinch-hitters, Norichika Aoki perfectly bunted the first pitch he saw in the eighth inning along the first-base line, good for a go-ahead safety squeeze and a 6-5 Brewers win at Miller Park on Monday.

Manager Ozzie Guillen's Marlins were not surprised. The Brewers have already executed the squeeze play -- whether safely or suicide -- seven times this season.

"I know [Guillen] knows we have a good chance to do it," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "What's he going to do?"

In other words, when the play is executed properly, there is little an opposing team can do.

Aoki's winning bunt scored Rickie Weeks, who accounted for the Brewers' first run Monday by accepting a bases-loaded walk and scored the last run after leading off the bottom of the eighth inning with a double. He advanced on a Martin Maldonado single, took a few big steps off third as Aoki dropped his bunt and then scampered home, giving the Brewers their third victory in four games on the homestand and a bit more momentum toward the All-Star break.

"I knew since they probably knew the squeeze was coming, I had to get it down even better than what I would usually do," Aoki said through translator Kosuke Inaji. "I was thinking, 'Just get the ball down.' And I was able to do that. ...

"I do get nervous, especially in a big situation like that, but because of that I just told myself to concentrate harder and get it down."

The Brewers' comeback -- keyed by Travis Ishikawa's tying, pinch-hit two-run single in the sixth inning and Aoki's winning bunt -- spared Zack Greinke what would have been his first loss in 22 starts at Miller Park.

He surrendered as many earned runs against the Marlins in six innings -- five -- as he had surrendered in his first six home starts this season.

"It was a pretty bad outing, everything," Greinke said. "But I got picked up."

Greinke was burned by a bad bounce in the first inning and a two-run home run in the third, both produced by Marlins center fielder Justin Ruggiano. His bouncer took a tough hop over third baseman Aramis Ramirez's glove for a two-run single in the first -- Ramirez would redeem himself later -- and Ruggiano pulled in his hands for a one-out homer in the third for a 5-2 lead.

Marlins starter Carlos Zambrano was just as shaky, and so was the Marlins' defense. They committed three errors -- two by third baseman Hanley Ramirez -- including a wild throw in the sixth inning that helped set up a tying Brewers rally.

Zambrano did not help his own cause. In the bottom of the first inning, he hit Ryan Braun with two outs and then walked the next three batters, including Weeks to force in a run.

Greinke may have gained some revenge in the top of the second, when he buzzed an inside pitch to Zambrano. That prompted warnings to both benches from plate umpire Derryl Cousins, and prompted Zambrano to run right across the pitcher's mound after he bounced out to second.

No matter, Greinke said. He does not subscribe to the idea, most famously propagated by A's pitcher Dallas Braden against the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez, that it's faux pas for someone to step on the mound.

"[Zambrano] was talking, I don't know what he was saying," Greinke said. "It might have been in Spanish, might have been English. I don't know."

Said Guillen: "With Greinke, I think he tried to pitch in to Carlos. I think. Carlos should kick his [butt] if he think he hit him. I would like to watch that fight."

That never happened, but the Brewers did fight back into the game. Center fielder Carlos Gomez homered off Zambrano in the fifth inning to cut the deficit to 5-3, and Ishikawa delivered in the sixth to tie the game.

That sixth-inning rally had threatened to fizzle after the Crew loaded the bases with nobody out and shortstop Cesar Izturis hit a bouncer to Zambrano, who started a 1-2-3 double play. Ishikawa followed, pinch-hitting for Greinke, and stroked a single to center field.

"I just saw today that I had four at-bats against [Zambrano], and I don't remember any of them, but I guess he got me out all four times," Ishikawa said. "I guess I never remember when the guy is getting me out; I only remember the hits."

With that hit, Greinke had a no-decision and remained 15-0 in home games, one win shy of tying the Yankees' Johnny Allen and the White Sox's LaMar Hoyt for the most wins at home without a loss to begin a tenure with a team.

Brewers reliever Kameron Loe pitched a clean seventh inning and Francisco Rodriguez wiggled out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth with help from third baseman Ramirez, who made two terrific diving plays.

"I think it definitely could have saved us the game," Roenicke said. "Two great plays."

That escape act left the teams tied at 5 entering the bottom of the eighth. After the Brewers scored on Aoki's bunt, closer John Axford logged his 14th save.

Fourteen of the Brewers' last 26 games have been decided by a single run.

"We played good, and we pulled out a win," Greinke said. "Those are the kind of games we've been struggling to win lately, so that's a good sign."

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