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Great start by Scherzer wasted by bullpen

Arizona Diamondbacks' Max Scherzer pitches during Thursday's game against the Brewers in Milwaukee.

Arizona Diamondbacks' Max Scherzer pitches during Thursday's game against the Brewers in Milwaukee.

MILWAUKEE – The Milwaukee Brewers couldn’t catch up with Max Scherzer’s 96-mph fastball. As it turns out, they didn’t have to.

After flailing mostly at air through six shutout innings by the hard-throwing Arizona starter, the Brewers scored four runs off the Diamondbacks’ bullpen in the seventh inning and held on to win 4-1 on Thursday.

In a significant test of Milwaukee’s more patient approach at the plate this season, the Brewers couldn’t score off Scherzer. But they did make him work hard enough to leave the game after the sixth.

“That’s the philosophy behind working the pitcher – you want to get into their bullpen,” Brewers manager Ken Macha said.

It was another momentum-building victory for the Brewers, who got their longest – and best – outing of the season from starter Jeff Suppan. Coming off a three-game sweep of Pittsburgh, Milwaukee has won eight of its last nine games after a rough start to the season.

“Just gritty,” said Mike Cameron, who had a two-run double in the seventh. “That was a sign of a really good baseball team, and hopefully we can continue to come up (big) in those situations.”

New Brewers closer Trevor Hoffman, a former Arizona Wildcat, pitched the ninth for his second save.

It was a hard-luck effort for Scherzer, who struck out seven in a dominant outing but again was denied his first career victory. Scherzer left the game with a 1-0 lead, but the Diamondbacks’ bullpen couldn’t hold on.

Tom Gordon (0-1) walked Bill Hall to lead off the inning, then allowed a soft single to Jason Kendall. Pinch-hitter Craig Counsell chopped a grounder to first baseman Chad Tracy, who ran all the way across the infield to tag Hall, who was frozen between third and home.

The runners advanced to second and third on a wild pitch by Gordon, and Rickie Weeks tied the game with an RBI single to left. Gordon then walked Corey Hart to load the bases for Ryan Braun.

“I was wild, and it cost us,” Gordon said.

Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin and Scherzer both backed Gordon.

“We still have confidence in him in that situation,” Melvin said.

Melvin brought in reliever Juan Gutierrez, who struck out Braun, then brought in left-hander Scott Schoeneweis to face Prince Fielder. Schoeneweis walked Fielder to bring in a run and give the Brewers the lead – a major rebound for Fielder, who managed to put aside the three strikeouts he had against Scherzer.

“My first couple of years, I couldn’t do that,” Fielder said of taking the walk. “But as I get older, it’s kind of getting better and better.”

Cameron then smacked a ground-rule double to left field to score two more and put Milwaukee up 4-1.

Brewers reliever Mark DiFelice (2-0) got a pair of outs in the seventh to earn the victory.

Scherzer made his debut to rave reviews last April. But a combination of injuries, early exits and sporadic run support kept him from earning his first win. And Thursday was no different.

“I’m disappointed the team didn’t win – not that I didn’t win,” Scherzer said.

Scherzer repeatedly threw fastballs between 94 and 96 mph for strikes.

“I’ll tell you what – wow,” Suppan said.

Suppan wasn’t nearly as flashy but was almost as effective. He gave up a leadoff home run to Felipe Lopez in 6 1/3 innings. Suppan gave up only five more hits and no walks, exiting to applause with one out in the seventh.

Suppan acknowledged that his command is improving, but said he didn’t think he’s pitching much differently than he was early in the season.

“Other than the results,” Suppan said.

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