MILWAUKEE (AP) — With each of Milwaukee’s top two closer options unavailable, Matt Bush stepped in and showcased the depth of the Brewers’ bullpen as they adjusted to life without four-time All-Star Josh Hader.
Bush, acquired from the Texas Rangers last week, struck out two batters and retired the side in the ninth inning to close out the Brewers’ 5-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday night.
“That was as good an inning as we’ve seen this year,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said.
Milwaukee won for just the second time in eight games to move within one game of NL Central-leading St. Louis. Louis Cardinals, who fell 16-5 to the Colorado Rockies.
The Brewers have gone 2-5 and fallen out of first place in the division standings since trading Hader to the San Diego Padres last week.
“We’d be lying if we said we weren’t looking into it,” said Andrew McCutchen of Milwaukee. “Everyone is looking at it. You can’t help but see it even when you’re not looking for it. I’m a big baseball fan, so I always watch baseball. I always follow what is happening. I can see that, of course. But I also understand that we just have to take care of business. Whatever is in front of us, is in front of us, keep it. Be where your feet are.”
McCutchen and Kolten Wong each drove in two runs. Tyrone Taylor made a leaping catch to rob Tampa Bay’s David Peralta of a homer.
Bush picked up his second save of the season, with his other coming April 23 as a member of the Rangers. His last save before this season came back in 2017.
The Brewers selected Bush because Devin Williams has pitched four of the last six days and Taylor Rogers underwent a cortisone shot in his left knee on Sunday.
Rogers was one of the players the Brewers acquired in the Hader trade. Counsell said he hopes Rogers will be available Wednesday.
Milwaukee’s Freddy Peralta (4-2) struck out four while allowing two runs, two hits and no walks in five innings in his second start since coming off the injured list. Peralta, who threw 65 pitches Tuesday, has been sidelined for nearly 2 1/2 months with a shoulder injury.
Tampa Bay managed just four hits, though Yandy Díaz snapped an 0-for-21 slump by hitting a two-run homer.
“They pitched well,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “Another day we don’t do the bats to our abilities.”
The Rays also got a big break.
Peralta led off the top of the second with a drive to right center, but Taylor timed his jump just right and reached his glove over the wall to make the catch and prevent a game-tying homer. Taylor said he hasn’t hit the wall to stop a homer like that since he was in the Single-A Florida State League.
“That’s the coolest thing I’ve ever done defensively,” Taylor said. “I’ve made some pretty cool catches in the minor leagues and stuff, but this is the big leagues. It’s like something you dream about when you’re a kid, playing baseball in your backyard.”
McCutchen hit an RBI ground-rule double in the first inning and broke a 2-all tie with a run-scoring single in the fifth. Wong followed with a two-run double into the left-field corner to make it 5-2.
Tampa Bay’s Jose Siri hit a one-out RBI double to right in the seventh, but was thrown out trying to stretch it to a triple. Adames took the throw from right fielder Hunter Renfroe and fired to third in time to retire Siri.
“You can’t make those mistakes,” Cash said.
Tampa Bay’s Ryan Yarbrough (0-7) struck out five but allowed three runs in 3 1/3 innings.
Rays: NG Manuel Margot began a rehab assignment Tuesday with the rookie-level Florida Complex League Rays. Margot went on the injured list on June 21 with a right patellar tendon strain.
Brewers: Rogers said the knee issue has been bothering him for months and coincided with the start of his struggles that kept him out as San Diego’s closer before the Milwaukee trade. “I don’t want it to be public because I don’t want it to be a reason for struggles,” Rogers said. “Everybody goes through things throughout the season.” … Counsell said C Omar Narváez will likely remain on the injured list beyond the 10-day minimum. Narváez went on the injured list Thursday with a strained left quadriceps.
LHP Jeffrey Springs (4-3, 2.50 ERA) starts for the Rays and RHP Brandon Woodruff (9-3, 3.49) pitches for the Brewers as this two-game series ends Wednesday afternoon.
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