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MIL@ATL: Braun brings Brewers closer with a solo shot

ATLANTA -- Brewers manager Ron Roenicke is not keen on using left-handed reliever Wei-Chung Wang in close games. But after 12 days without an appearance, Roenicke decided to put the rookie in during the eighth inning of a one-run contest.

The Braves lineup responded with a furious frame, tagging Wang for five runs in a 9-3 victory against the Brewers on Monday night at Turner Field. Atlanta had scored as many as five runs in a game only twice in its past 20 contests.

"With where we were and having to have some pitchers for tomorrow, we thought we had to do it," Roenicke said. "I don't know. It's tough on him. I don't know when's the last time he pitched. It's been a long time."

Wang's rough inning, which first baseman Lyle Overbay had to finish, saw the left-hander's ERA balloon from an already high 12.86 to 17.61. Roenicke would like to use Wang in situations with lower stakes, but the opportunities have not been there.

"It's very difficult for a kid to go that long without pitching and then come in a tight ballgame and expect him to get people out," Roenicke said. "That's tough. That's hard. It's hard for me to put him in those situations, but unfortunately, that's what we needed to do."

The Braves' explosive eighth, which included Ryan Doumit's 100th career home run, blew open what had been a close game for the first seven-and-a-half innings. In the eighth, Ryan Braun cut the deficit to one run with a solo homer.

In the previous seven innings, Milwaukee had stuck with Atlanta despite a rare off night from the battery of starter Wily Peralta and catcher Martin Maldonado. The Brewers were 8-0 in Maldonado's starts behind the dish entering Monday night, and Peralta had made seven straight quality starts and owned a 2.05 ERA.

But Maldonado made three costly mistakes -- a passed ball, a throwing error and a catcher's interference call -- that ultimately led to two runs that loomed large as Wang took the mound to begin the eighth with Milwaukee trailing, 4-3.

With Justin Upton on first and Jason Heyward at second in the first, Maldonado allowed both runners to advance on a passed ball with Evan Gattis at the plate. Maldonado tried to throw out Heyward at third, but the ball sailed over Mark Reynolds' head into left field to plate Atlanta's first run.

Maldonado then committed catcher's interference in the sixth, negating an Upton flyout to right field and loading the bases. Gattis brought home the Braves' fourth run later that inning with a sacrifice fly. The backup catcher only made eight errors and allowed five passed balls in his previous 981 2/3 career innings behind the plate before Monday.

"He's usually so good throwing the ball," Roenicke said. "It's like anybody else. You're not in there every day, and it's hard to repeat things all the time. We expect him to when he catches once every fifth, sixth, seventh day, whenever it is, and we expect him to go out there and do it all. But it's not that easy."

The miscues made by Wang and Maldonado masked an off night for Peralta, who battled command issues in his shortest outing since April 5. He walked a season-high four batters in five innings as he took his third loss of the season.

Peralta walked only 1.7 batters per nine innings in his first eight trips to the hill this season, compared to his career rate of 3.6.

"He's off of his game, and they get three runs off of him," Roenicke said. "It's not too bad when you're all over the place. They got a lot of hits off him, and he didn't allow them to have any big innings."

Peralta threw 101 pitches, eclipsing the century mark for the fourth time this season. However, he pitched at least seven innings in his other three starts this season with a pitch count exceeding 100.

"It was tough," Peralta said. "I think I got men on base in pretty much every inning. I just battled and battled."

Despite struggling with command and receiving only a two-run homer from Khris Davis for run support, Peralta managed to keep the game close. He gave up only two earned runs, and stranded eight Atlanta runners.

"His ball moves a ton," Upton said. "You really have to zone in on him. I think we did a great job of that."

Despite the loss, Roenicke takes heart in how Peralta battled, and appreciates the steps Peralta has taken to improve in his second full season in the Majors.

"I hope when his fastball command is off as much as it was today, that he's able to get through ballgames," Roenicke said. "His changeup was actually really good, probably the best changeup he's had. He had to go to something else because the fastball command wasn't there, and he was able to do it." Comments