"The Milwaukee Brewers can't win on the road." Such were the comments of more than one critic when discussing the Brewers this year and in the past.
Silence the critics and sound the trumpets, because these Brewers have come to play.
This week, the Brewers embarked on their longest road trip of the year. What stood in front of them was an 11 day, 10 game stretch versus three division opponents. It was termed by more than one player as a make or break trip.
The Brewers boarded the plane to Cincinnati after floundering their way through the beginning of June, finding themselves with a 5-9 record in the month, and an even worse 2-6 mark at home during that same stretch. The team looked destined to land its first losing month since the acquisition of Richie Sexson last July.
Milwaukee took two of three from the Reds in a series that featured several home runs and even a one inning pitching stint for Mark Loretta, who struck out two batters and allowed no runs in the 11-3 Brewers loss on Wednesday.
Of special note during the series with the Reds was the play of Sexson. Showing signs of life during the past week, Sexson really seemed to get his swing going by posting a 5 for 12 series, which included two home runs and four runs batted in.
The Brewers came to Chicago to face Cubs trailing them in the National League Central by seven and one half games. The Cubs had won 13 consecutive games at Wrigley Field, and had posted a 6-3 record versus Milwaukee this year.
Kerry Wood toed the rubber for the Cubs in game one of the series on Friday. His pitching opponent was Jimmy Haynes, who threw a great game, allowing only one run on four hits through seven innings. Haynes would receive a no-decision in the game, as he turned the ball over to the bullpen with the score tied at one apiece. This day, the Brewers played small ball to win the game, as a infield single by James Mouton plated Richie Sexson to provide a 2-1 lead that would hold up as the final score.
Game two of the series featured Jamey Wright vs. Kevin Tapani. Wright had been red-hot since returning from the disabled list. Wright was 2-0 with a 2.92 ERA since returning to the rotation in Detroit. He again showed great stuff against the Cubs, throwing eight plus shutout innings to get the win and run his record to 7-4 on the season. The Brewers won the game 4-0, as a first inning three-run homer by Sexson proved to be all the offense Milwaukee would need.
By Sunday, the Brewers had trimmed the Cubs division lead to five and one half games, and were thinking about a sweep. Milwaukee sent its best hurler to the mound, in rookie right-hander, Ben Sheets. Sheets was matched up against Jason Bere, and once again the Brewers were able to jump on top early with another first inning three-run homer, this time Jeromy Burnitz provided the fireworks. Matt Stairs would provide the Cubs with two home runs, but two former Cubs would come back to haunt the Chicago faithful, as a solo homer by Jose Hernandez and a two-run shot by Tyler Houston proved to be too much in a 6-3 Brewers win.
Showing the world that they could indeed play on the road, Milwaukee completed the week with a 5-1 record to run the season total to 38-34, only 4