<
>

Brewers' win not according to plan

5/20/2004

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) -- With a relief pitcher who started
and a leadoff guy who hit the long ball, it was safe to say the
Milwaukee Brewers found a wacky way to win.

Leadoff hitter Scott Podsednik hit the go-ahead home run off
closer Rocky Biddle in the ninth inning to lift the Brewers to a
3-2 victory over the Montreal Expos.

Podsednik took a 2-1 pitch over the right-field wall against
Biddle (0-2), who was brought in to protect a tie game. It was
Podsednik's fourth home run of the season.

"I was thinking he needed to get on base and we needed to
manufacture a run," Brewers manager Ned Yost said.

But nothing really went to plan this day.

The home run made a winner out of Mike Adams (1-0), who struck
out Orlando Cabrera during a tense, 11-pitch at-bat with the
go-ahead run on second as part of a scoreless eighth inning. It was
just Adams' second major league appearance.

He was part of Yost's pitcher-by-committee game plan, a strategy
set up because of persistent rain at the start of the game.

The game began 49 minutes late, then after just 12 pitches,
another storm came in and halted play for another 48 minutes.

Fearing the rain might waste a turn by scheduled starter Wes
Obermueller, Yost chose to push Obermueller's start back to
Saturday, give Matt Wise his first start in three years, then use
the committee approach the rest of the way.

"I just wanted to go out there and eat up some innings for
them," Wise said.

The strategy worked, as Wise, Jeff Bennett, Dave Burba, Adams
and closer Dan Kolb held the Expos to two runs and eight hits.

Kolb pitched the ninth for his 10th save, and second in two
nights.

"If we do what we did today with the staff and lose, it's a
disaster," Yost said. "We won the game, but we shot up the
bullpen doing it. But we won the game."

They won thanks to Podsednik's home run -- not exactly what the
Brewers were expecting, considering he has only 14 homers in 755
major league at-bats.

"That's not usually how I'm going to score a run when we need
one," Podsednik conceded. "It came at a good time."

Montreal starter Tomo Ohka gave up a two-run homer to Bill Hall
in the second inning that left the ballpark, clearing the wall, the
bleachers and the fence that rings tiny Hiram Bithorn Stadium.

From there, though, Montreal pitchers faced the minimum over the
next seven innings. The Expos only allowed two runners during that
stretch -- one who was erased by a double play and the other who
ended the eighth inning by getting caught stealing.

The string ended when Biddle entered and allowed the homer with
no outs. Craig Counsell followed with a single, and after a
sacrifice, manager Frank Robinson pulled his closer.

Robinson said he had no qualms about using Biddle in a non-save
situation.

"There is no save opportunity after the ninth," Robinson said.
"So why keep him on the bench when we can ensure that we can get a
win in the next at-bat?"

The strategy backfired, though, and provided a nice finish to a
long, long series in San Juan for Milwaukee. It included nearly
four hours in rain delays and a freak injury to third baseman Wes
Helms, who slipped on the wet ramp outside the clubhouse Wednesday
and injured his knee.

The team was awaiting results on the MRI exam, although Yost
said he was anticipating Helms would end up on the disabled list.

The Brewers left late Thursday for a long trip to Pittsburgh.
They have Podsednik to thank for getting them on the road a little
sooner.

"In the seventh or eighth inning, we looked at the clock and it
was like 6 or 6:30," he said. "We were going to do anything we
could to make sure we didn't have to play more than nine" innings.

Milwaukee took two of three from the Expos to improve to 21-19.
Last season, it took the Brewers until May 30 to win their 21st
game.

Game notes
Montreal's Jose Vidro came off the bench and went 0-for-2,
including a groundout with the go-ahead runner on second in the
seventh inning. He is now 2-for-his-last-26. ... Montreal pitcher
Tony Armas Jr., will start Friday for Class A Brevard County. Armas
is coming back from rotator cuff surgery last May. ... The Brewers
plan to get Junior Spivey (hamstring) back in the lineup Friday at
Pittsburgh. Yost held Spivey out of the Expos series because of the
spongy surface at Bithorn Stadium.