Tigers fall short of series sweep

Tigers fall short of series sweep vs. Brewers

MILWAUKEE -- Joel Zumaya gave up a 423-foot, no-doubt grand slam to Ken Griffey Jr. a month ago at Comerica Park. He surrendered a 407-foot homer to Aramis Ramirez last Friday at Wrigley Field. As hard as he throws, when he gives them up, they're going to go a long way.

It's the ones that don't go far that bother him, like Rickie Weeks' go-ahead two-run homer in the seventh inning on Wednesday that ended the Tigers' six-game winning streak.

"I gave up a little home run, and that's what gets me," Zumaya said after the series-ending 4-3 loss to the Brewers at Miller Park. "I'd rather give up one 500 feet."

The 500-foot homers he can salute for a good swing. Zumaya was almost smiling after Ramirez's home run, noting he could now tell people he gave up a home run at Wrigley. The little home runs carry enough doubt that it kills him.

It won't bother Zumaya into his next outing. He has given up home runs before and come back firing the same fastballs at sluggers and ninth hitters alike. The little ones tend to bother him a little more when it comes after a starting pitcher has given the team a chance to win.

Not that Nate Robertson was bothered, anyway.

"He can't be Superman all the time," said Robertson, who scattered two runs through his first six innings and was one out away from ending the seventh unblemished. "It's baseball. It's going to happen. He's our guy in those situations, and he's done a real good job."

As Robertson pointed out, Zumaya leads the Majors in holds with 17. The only save situation he had blown came on Griffey's homer May 20, and the Tigers came back to win that game.

Robertson had a chance to become Detroit's third eight-game winner, something the Tigers haven't had at this point in a season since Dan Petry, Jack Morris and Walt Terrell in 1985. He was in position to do it, having escaped a potential game-tying homer in the sixth when Bill Hall's drive to right field became a sacrifice fly to the warning track instead.

Still working with the potential tying run on base, Robertson induced an inning-ending double play to end the sixth still ahead. He retired the first two batters in order in the seventh before Chris Barnwell hit for pitcher Chris Capuano.

Barnwell lined a 2-1 pitch to left for his first Major League hit, extending the inning for what ended up being Zumaya's first Major League loss.

The deciding pitches from Zumaya (3-1) came before the home run. He threw three consecutive fastballs that registered at 97 mph on the stadium radar gun. The first two missed the strike zone. The third came across about thigh high.

Weeks went after it, and the suspense began.

"He didn't hit it that well at all," Zumaya said. "I saw [center fielder Curtis Granderson] go [back] and then he cut it a little, so I thought [he might have it]."

Once he cut, however, Granderson kept taking steps back until he was at the fence. He made a leaping attempt, but didn't have it.

"That ball barely got over," Zumaya said, before demonstrating the narrow margin by which Granderson missed the grab. "Grandy missed that ball by that much."

Zumaya admitted he was still peeved over the homer in the clubhouse after the game, though he had calmed down by the time he talked to reporters. It's a new feeling for him as a reliever, but he had similar frustrations as a starter whenever he was knocked out early. If anything, he believes relieving is a little easier on him.

"That's what I like about being a reliever. I have an opportunity to help my team win every game," he said.

Granderson entered the game as a pinch-runner in the top half of the seventh inning for Craig Monroe, whose three doubles either drove in or led to all three of Detroit's runs. Monroe left with tightness in his left quadriceps running out of the last of those doubles.

Monroe doubled in Carlos Guillen and scored in the second before his leadoff double in the fifth preceded Marcus Thames' RBI single, giving the Tigers a 3-1 lead at the time.

Once they were behind, the Tigers had one more chance to tie. Thames hit a broken-bat bloop single leading off the eighth against Dan Kolb, who gave up another blooper to Magglio Ordonez with one out. Brian Shouse struck out Guillen, but walked Omar Infante to load the bases for Chris Shelton, who was caught looking at a called third strike from Jose Capellan.

"We had our chances, not many of them," manager Jim Leyland said. "We didn't do enough to score more runs."

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.