<
>

Rushford hits first big league homer in victory

9/14/2002

PHOENIX (AP) -- A late-season visit to Bank One Ballpark provided
just the motivation the stumbling Milwaukee Brewers needed.

Jim Rushford hit his first big league home run and Glendon Rusch
pitched a seven-hitter as the Brewers snapped a four-game losing
streak with an 8-4 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday
night.

"It's been a miserable season but the fact is they can get
fired up and go after it, and they did,'' Brewers manager Jerry
Royster said. "Today is one of those days and this is one of those
teams that can bring up the level of play of these guys.''

Rusch, 2-0 against Arizona this season, won his fourth straight
-- the longest streak of his career. He is the first Milwaukee
pitcher to reach double-digit wins this season.

"Especially for the guys who've never been here before, to come
into the world champions' ballpark and play, I think that's quite a
bit of incentive,'' Rusch said. "These guys didn't win the World
Series for nothing, and we're going to see the two best pitchers in
the league the next two days.''

The Diamondbacks, whose lead in the NL West slipped to six games
over second-place San Francisco with 15 to play, send Randy Johnson
after his 22nd victory on Saturday and Curt Schilling after his 24th on Sunday.

Arizona manager Bob Brenly said Friday night's game was an
example of how dangerous teams with losing records can be.

"They don't care who we are or what we're looking forward to,''
Brenly said. "They're all trying to make a name for themselves and
open up some eyes over there, maybe win a job on the ballclub next
year. They've got nothing to lose and everything to gain by going
out there and playing very relaxed, very aggressive baseball.
Tonight was a case in point.''

Rushford, who began the season at Double-A Huntsville and was
called up from Triple-A Indianapolis when rosters expanded, homered
off the right-field foul pole in the seventh inning to break a
4-all tie. He had a career-high three hits, including an RBI single
as Milwaukee scored three runs in the eighth, all with two outs.

"You don't know how long you're going to be up here, and you
want to be able to say, `Yeah, I hit a home run in the big
leagues,''' Rushford said. "It was almost like it was a relief,
but the timing of it in the game made it real special. Also,
against the Diamondbacks made it that much more special.''

Jose Hernandez drove in two runs with a bases-loaded single on
an 0-2 pitch from reliever Matt Mantei.

"We all know Jose Hernandez, what's he got 180 or 181
strikeouts,'' Brenly said. "I'm sure Matt wasn't trying to throw
that slider over the plate, but it did catch too much of the plate
and he was able to get it through the left side. Hindsight's 20-20,
but you can bounce that ball in the dirt, you can throw it over his
head, you can do anything with it but put it where he did.''

Matt Williams hit a two-run homer and Steve Finley doubled for
his 2,000th career hit for the NL West-leading Diamondbacks, who
were coming off a three-game sweep of San Diego.

Rusch (10-13) survived a shaky start for his fourth complete
game this season and the eighth of his career. He struck out five,
walked two and did not give up a hit after the fourth inning.

The Brewers scored four runs in the second inning off Rick
Helling (8-11), who settled down and allowed just one more hit
before Rushford's one-out homer.

Richie Sexson led off the Milwaukee second with a double, went
to second on a groundout and scored on Williams' fielding error at
third. Paul Bako had an RBI double, Rusch singled in a run and
Ronnie Belliard added a sacrifice fly.

"Probably 99 times out of 100 Matty throws the guy out at home
and I've got a man on first and two outs,'' Helling said. "After
that, the inning got away from me.''

The lead didn't last long.

Greg Colbrunn led off the Arizona second with a ground-rule
double, then Williams homered to make it 4-2. Finley doubled and
scored on Damian Miller's single to cut the lead to 4-3.

Arizona tied it in the third. Rusch walked Junior Spivey, then
Luis Gonzalez singled. Spivey scored when Colbrunn hit into a
double play.

Only three of the five runs Helling allowed were earned. He gave
up six hits, struck out four and walked none.

Game notes
Schilling needs eight strikeouts to reach 300. That would
make him and Johnson the first teammates with 300 in the same
season. ... Milwaukee is 23-49 on the road, worst in the NL. ... OF
Felix Jose struck out as a pinch-hitter, his sixth strikeout in 10
at-bats since joining the Diamondbacks. He has one hit.