Hall lifts team after tough night
Two-run homer in the eighth inning sinks Tigers
DETROIT -- Twenty-four hours after they were on the wrong end of a no-hitter, hits were not in short supply for the Brewers on Wednesday night. But big hits certainly were.
Until Bill Hall batted in the eighth inning, that is.
Hall made up for an otherwise tough night for the Brewers offense, going 3-for-3 including a go-ahead, two-run home run in the eighth inning of Wednesday's 3-2 win over the Tigers at Comerica Park.
"We won the game," Brewers manager Ned Yost insisted. "Bottom line."
Carlos Villanueva pitched well in place of Chris Capuano, who was scratched minutes before game time with a groin strain. Chris Spurling got the win in relief, his first since he pitched for the Tigers in 2005. Francisco Cordero rebounded from consecutive blown saves for his Major League-leading 23rd successful one.
And the Brewers breathed a big sigh of relief.
"It was a game where you had to scratch and claw, and just about your whole team was involved in it," Yost said. "That's a big win for us, especially after what happened last night."
What happened on Tuesday night was Tigers right-hander Justin Verlander, who mixed a nasty array of 100-mph fastballs with curveballs and changeups for the first no-hitter against Milwaukee in 13 years.
It was not as if the Brewers responded with an offensive barrage. They went 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position, with neither of those hits producing a run. They stranded runners at second or third base in each of the first five innings against Tigers starter Mike Maroth, who surrendered nine hits and four walks in seven innings but somehow allowed only one run. They had one runner picked off first base and another caught stealing, and hit into three double plays.
The ugliest of the twin-killings came in the second inning, when Brewers shortstop J.J. Hardy was caught trying to advance from first to second on a flyout to right field while Corey Hart stayed put at third. First baseman Marcus Thames cut off the throw home and threw out Hardy at second base.
"J.J. thought he read the ball over [Thames'] head," Yost said. "It was a great baserunning play, but it just wasn't over his head. Those are things that we're working on to make us better."
The Brewers also overcame what could have been a pitching emergency. Capuano was scratched at about 6:50 p.m. ET, 15 minutes before the game began, but right-handed reliever Villanueva came to the rescue with five outstanding innings, exiting with the Brewers trailing, 1-0.
The Brewers briefly tied the game in the sixth on Damian Miller's groundout, but the Tigers pushed ahead in the seventh. Matt Wise surrendered a leadoff single to Brandon Inge and was replaced by lefty reliever Brian Shouse, who was called for a balk on a pickoff move because first baseman Prince Fielder was too far away from the base.
Inge advanced on a sacrifice bunt and scored when Curtis Granderson grounded a single to center field for a 2-1 lead. Tigers reliever Fernando Rodney (1-5) was one strike away from getting Detroit to the ninth with that lead in tact.
But after working to a full count by watching two pitches called balls by plate umpire Dale Scott, Hall launched a Rodney pitch into the left-field seats for the Brewers' first lead in the series. It was the first home run since May 19 for Hall, who entered the game with two hits in his last 18 at-bats but had walked three times in Verlander's no-hitter on Tuesday.
"I felt good [on Tuesday] night," Hall said. "Obviously, Verlander did what he did, but I was comfortable in the box. Maroth has a little less velocity, but I felt good again today, too."
Hall doubled and scored the Brewers' first run in the sixth inning. Against Rodney in the eighth, he fell into a 1-and-2 hole but then took two close pitches before connecting on a fastball for the home run.
"Billy's starting to get locked in," Yost said.
But the skipper was just as interested to talk about Villanueva, a 23-year-old who made the big-league bullpen after a successful Spring Training. His five surprising innings -- Yost was hoping for three -- left the Brewers with some semblance of a bullpen for Thursday's series finale. Ben Sheets will start.
"Our bullpen expects to pitch every night, and they're ready to stand up whenever they're needed," Yost said. "Carlos Villanueva is a guy who has done that for us all year long. He has been pressed into some pretty tough situations and he has come through."
This was a big win, according to Villanueva.
"It was big for us in every sense of the word," he said. "We don't feel like, 'Oh man, we're going bad.' We feel we are a couple of wins to getting back to where we were before. This was a real, true, team win today, so it feels great."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.