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SD@MIL: Venable homers, doubles in three-hit effort

MILWAUKEE -- Through five scoreless innings of work Sunday at Miller Park, Padres starting pitcher Anthony Bass appeared on his way to giving manager Bud Black exactly what he said he wanted before the game -- a long performance to rest the bullpen.

But all it took was one stanza to make it all for naught, as San Diego (20-41) lost to Milwaukee, 6-5, thanks in part to a four-run sixth inning for the Brewers.

"It seems like just a reoccurring thing," said Bass, who fell to 2-6 on the year. "Around the middle part of the game, right there in the sixth, just a couple hits here and there and then one big hit. It's happened too often."

Armed with a 2-0 lead, Bass entered the sixth inning having given up just one hit and was fresh off striking out the side looking in the bottom of the fifth.

But then came the inning that would end up dooming Bass and the Padres.

Milwaukee center fielder Norichika Aoki led off the sixth with an infield single. And after stealing second and reaching third on a John Baker throwing error, Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun drove him home with a single to put the Brewers on the board. Two flyouts later, Bass was one out away from leaving the sixth still clinging to a 2-1 lead before walking Rickie Weeks. The next batter was catcher Martin Maldonado, who delivered the big hit Bass spoke of, launching a three-run homer to dead center field that put Milwaukee up, 4-2.

"The walk to Weeks was a backbreaker for Anthony," Padres manager Bud Black said. "But the hanging slider [to Maldonado] ended up really hurting him."

Bass remained in the game for one more batter, but after surrendering a triple to shortstop Edwin Maysonet, he was replaced by right-hander Brad Brach. After escaping the sixth, Brach did not have much better luck, as Braun hit a two-run homer off of him in the seventh to extend the lead to 6-2.

The day had started out well for the Padres, who got to Milwaukee starter Yovani Gallardo on the first at-bat, when right fielder Will Venable led off with a shot over the wall in left-center field. First baseman Yonder Alonso gave the Padres their second run of the game after leading off the second inning with a single and scoring on Everth Cabrera's groundout three batters later.

Gallardo settled in, though, and followed his rough first two innings with five straight scoreless ones, including consecutive 1-2-3 innings in the fifth and sixth. He ran into trouble in the seventh, when he surrendered back-to-back singles, but escaped the inning on a Logan Forsythe fielder's choice.

San Diego did manage to make the Brewers sweat in the top of the ninth, mounting a furious comeback. Following a Cabrera strikeout to start the inning, five straight Padres reached base against Milwaukee closer John Axford. A Chase Headley single drove in the first run of the inning and a bases-loaded walk by outfielder Carlos Quentin made it a two-run game. Axford, who allowed three hits and walked two batters before being chased, has struggled in non-save situations such as Sunday all season long.

"I guess, statistic-wise, it seems that way this year," Axford said. "But the first three guys I faced were strikeout, broken bat and a chopper double that apparently hit a brick in front of home plate or something. After that, the walks is really what hurt."

Taking advantage of their fortuitous bounces, the Padres had the potential go-ahead run at second base with two outs and catcher John Baker at the plate. Facing Jose Veras, who had already walked in a run to make it a 6-5 game, Baker looked at a 3-2 curveball for a strike to end the game.

"It was a great run there in the ninth," Black said. "I really thought we were going to do it. We had some really, really good at-bats."

Instead, Baker's strikeout capped a day in which the Friars left 11 runners on base. Black said San Diego has to do "a better job, plain and simple" with runners in scoring position. But Headley, who went 2-for-4 on the day, said it's not that simple.

"That's what you want to do, is give yourself a chance to score each inning," he said. "Sometimes I say with us, a lot of this year it was our doing that we weren't able to get runs in. But I thought we had some decent at-bats."

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