10/05/08 7:06 PM EST
Crew's run comes to an end in Game 4
Suppan struggles, as Phillies hold on to eliminate Brewers
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
"I view this as a success now, especially from what we went through to get here," Fielder said. "There's a lot of teams wishing they could have lost right now instead of being at home watching it. Whenever you get to a situation like this, you can never be upset about it."The Brewers were eliminated a day after the NL Central-rival Cubs were swept by the Dodgers in the other NLDS. The Phillies will host the Dodgers in Game 1 of the NLCS on Thursday in Philadelphia. Postseason veteran Jeff Suppan (0-1) struggled through all three innings he pitched, surrendering three of the Phillies' four home runs and leaving the Brewers in a 5-0 hole before they batted in the bottom of the third. Technically, they were not out of the game. Realistically, they were never exactly in it. "It's hard, man, because that's definitely not a position you want to be in," said Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun, who drove in a late run with a single. "It takes away your aggressiveness. ... Overall, we just didn't swing the bats well enough in the entire series. Give credit to [the Phillies]. They were better than us." Said J.J. Hardy, who led the Brewers with a .429 postseason batting average: "We still felt like we were in the ballgame. We never gave up. We just couldn't do it." Phillies starter Joe Blanton (1-0) blanked the Brewers on three hits through the first six innings before Fielder snapped an 0-for-12 start to his postseason career with a homer leading off the seventh. Braun singled home the team's other run in the eighth, but by then the Brewers were in a deep hole. Suppan, a right-hander with a reputation of postseason success, could not put away Phillies hitters. Rollins led off the game with a home run on a 3-2 pitch. Burrell hit a two-out, three-run homer in the third inning on a 2-2 pitch. Werth made it back-to-back homers.
NLDS 2-0 leads
|Eighteen teams have been behind 2-0 in NLDS history; none have won. In 14 of those 18, the series ended in a three-game sweep.|
Right-hander Yovani Gallardo relieved Suppan to start the fourth inning and delivered three shutout innings. He lost Game 1 of the series in Philadelphia, and might have been an option to start Game 4 had the Brewers decided to work him on short rest.Instead, they tabbed Suppan. Brewers manager Dale Sveum said it was never up for debate. "I don't think there was any question about him starting today," Sveum said. The Brewers' exit was not for a lack of support from the stands. This time, the 43,934 fans at Miller Park were armed with ThunderStix, the noisy, balloon-like implements that filled the dome with a cacophony of sound as Suppan (0-1) took the mound. With one swat, Rollins created total silence. His second career postseason leadoff home run gave the Phillies a 1-0 lead and set the tone for a difficult three innings for Suppan, who fooled few Phillies hitters while he surrendered five runs on six hits. Suppan avoided further damage in the first inning and worked out of a first-and-third jam in the second, but then surrendered back-to-back two-out home runs to Burrell and Werth in the third. After an intentional walk to Ryan Howard left the Phillies with runners at first and second base, Burrell made Suppan pay, hitting an up-and-in 88-mph fastball for a three-run home run to left field. Werth then belted a 1-and-1 breaking ball from Suppan for a 5-0 Phillies lead. "That's not too much to come back from when it's the third inning and you have [seven] at-bats to come back," Sveum said. "Blanton, that's as good as I've ever seen him throw. We never got enough people on base to bop one. We scored a couple of runs here and there, but we never got the bases loaded to get back in the game." Burrell hit his second home run of the game in the eighth inning, a shot that made it 6-1. "Unfortunately, Burrell was our Achilles' tendon today," Sveum said. The Brewers had hoped to force a Game 5 in Philadelphia, which would have featured two fabulous left-handers: CC Sabathia for Milwaukee against Phillies Game 1 starter Cole Hamels. Instead, Sabathia served as a pinch-hitter for Suppan in the bottom of the third inning and drew a huge ovation from the fans who watched Sabathia pitch the Brewers into the playoffs in the first place. While the Phillies celebrated on the mound after winning the series, the fans delivered one last ovation for the Brewers' 90-win Wild Card season. There were no curtain calls, no jerseys thrown into the stands like the Brewers had done after past season finales. But players certainly took note of the support as they moved into the offseason. "I just wish we could have given them a better last game," center fielder Mike Cameron said.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.