MILWAUKEE — One poorly placed pitch and one short fence in a hitter-friendly park turned into three runs, eliminating the Mariners’ hopes of a sweep of a playoff team.
Minutes after giving up his first run on a bases-loaded squeeze bunt by Brewers pitcher Chase Anderson, Mariners starter Mike Leake left a first-pitch cutter over the middle of the plate that Orlando Arcia was able to sneak over the wall in short right field for a three-run homer.
The four-run fourth inning was all the Brewers would need in Thursday’s 4-2 win over the Mariners at Miller Park.
“I could have placed (the pitch to Arcia) a little better,” Leake said. “I could have gone off the plate and tested where he was at first instead of going right at him.
“That one inning was the blemish.”
The Brewers, who are locked in a battle with the Cubs and Cardinals for the National League Central, avoided being swept by a rebuilding Seattle team. The Mariners were looking for their first true series sweep since taking four from the hosting Kansas City Royals on April 8-11. They have twice taken both games of a two-game set.
The Mariners have won six of their past eight and were competitive in defeat, which hasn’t always been the case this season.
Leake took the loss to fall to 7-7. He worked six innings, allowing the four runs on eight hits with a walk and five strikeouts.
He cruised through the outing with the exception of the fourth. Ryan Braun led off with a single and Eric Thames followed with his second double of the game. After striking out Lorenzo Cain, the Mariners intentionally walked Travis Shaw to bring Anderson to the plate since the Brewers had their pitcher bat in the No. 8 spot in the order. It was typical baseball strategy by the Mariners. But Anderson executed a perfect bunt to the first-base side of the mound, and Braun was aggressively running from third. Leake had no other play but to throw to first for the out.
The Brewers got a workable outing from Anderson, who allowed just two hits in the first five innings. His only major trouble early came when he had to work around his own walk of Leake and his miscue on a play at first base that put runners on the corners with two outs in the third inning. A big strikeout of former teammate Domingo Santana ended the drama.
“Chase was really good today. I thought just the command of his pitches is what stood out,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “(Catcher Yasmani Grandal) did a really nice job of sequences. It wasn’t necessarily the strikeouts that stood out, it was the popups and the lazy fly balls.”
The Mariners finally got to Anderson in the sixth inning. With one out, Santana reached on an error in left field by Christian Yelich and scored on Daniel Vogelbach’s double into right field. The Brewers lifted Anderson after Vogelbach’s double, but his replacement, Matt Albers, immediately gave up an RBI double to Tim Beckham that cut the lead to 4-2.
But with a late-innings lead, the Brewers bullpen locked it down. Junior Guerra pitched a scoreless seventh and ultra-dominant left-hander Josh Hader carved up the Mariners in the eighth and ninth for a two-inning save.
“Counsell couldn’t wait to go to him,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said of Hader. “He’s really good and one of the better relievers in the league. I was hoping to get out of here not see him at all.”