ARLINGTON (AP) – The usually reliable Milwaukee bullpen faltered Wednesday night, sending the Brewers home with a 5-4 loss to the Texas Rangers.
Milwaukee finished 5-4 on the 10-day road trip and lost for the 23rd time this season when holding a lead.
The Rangers rallied in the seventh when three Brewers’ relievers got wild.
The Brewers bullpen, which had a 2.88 ERA — fourth-best in the majors — coming in, walked three and gave up two hits and three runs in that inning.
“They’ve been doing such a good job that when they don’t, it’s surprising,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said.
The AL West-leading Rangers were 7-40 when trailing after six innings before Elvis Andrus had an RBI single to snap an 0-for-13 skid and Ian Kinsler a two-run single that turned a two-run deficit into a lead for Texas.
Brewers right hander Tyler Thornburg gave up one earned run in six innings, receiving a no-decision for the third time in three starts.
In relief, left-hander Michael Gonzalez walked the two batters he faced, then John Axford walked pinch-hitter Jeff Baker to load the bases with no outs.
After Leonys Martin struck out, Andrus hit a line drive single to cut the Rangers’ deficit to 4-3. Burke Badenhop relieved Axford (5-6) and promptly gave up the two-run single to Kinsler.
“Walking the bases loaded is a tough thing to do when you’re up a couple of runs, but those guys aren’t perfect,” Roenicke said. “You’ve got a good offense on the other side, and they did a good job.”
While Rangers starter Matt Garza gave up eight hits and four runs in 5 2-3 innings – his shortest start since arriving in Texas — Neal Cotts, Jason Frasor (4-2), Tanner Scheppers and Joe Nathan combined to shut down the Brewers.
Nathan notched his 36th save in 38 tries.
Milwaukee’s Juan Francisco homered twice and drove in four runs.
Francisco hit a 428 foot homer in the second. His second long ball was a three-run shot and gave Milwaukee at 4-2 lead in the fourth inning.
It was Francisco’s second multihomer game. The other came April 16 when he was playing for the Braves against Kansas City.
And twice Martin, the Rangers center fielder, and third baseman Jurickson Profar hooked up for impressive putouts that stalled Milwaukee scoring chances.
In the first inning, Martin threw out Juan Segura as Profar stretched out for the catch and made the tag just as Segura was sliding into Profar’s foot.
And in the sixth, Profar came a foot off the bag to his left then reached down quickly to tag Carlos Gomez for the out. Martin has a team-leading 10 outfield assists this season, which is tied for first in the American League.
“Those were as good of throws as I’ve seen an outfielder make this year,” Roenicke said. “He threw out our fastest runners.
When we’re taking off, we don’t think he’s going to be able to throw us out, but his throws were perfect.”
The game was delayed 37 minutes. Tuesday’s game was delayed 42 minutes.
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