MILWAUKEE — Entering the sixth inning, the Milwaukee Brewers could get nothing done in support of another terrific start by Mike Caldwell. Geoff Zahn was shutting them out on two hits and carried a 1-0 lead.
It all started when Jim Gantner led off the inning with a hit by pitch, taking a high fastball off of his wrist. Gantner would be replaced by Rob Picciolo, and x-rays revealed only a deep bone bruise.
Molitor singled to left, Robin bunted both runners over, and then Cooper hit a harmless groundout to short.
So there it was. The Brewers had runners at second and third with two outs, trailing 1-0. It’s where pennant contending teams cash in. It’s where others do not.
The Brewers cashed in. Zahn threw a wild pitch, plating Picciolo. Gorman Thomas then hammered a rare opposite field single to score Molitor. Don Money hit a looper into the corner in right that Reggie Jackson couldn’t cut off for an RBI triple. And then Mark Brouhard, filling in for the injured Ben Oglivie, launched a three-run homer to make it five two-out runs in the inning.
The Angels would battle back with a two-run homer by Reggie Jackson in the top of the seventh, but the Brewers then put their collective foot on the throat with three runs on four hits in the eighth. Every offensive player other than Gantner got into the act, collecting either a hit, run score or RBI.
Caldwell allowed all five runs in eight solid innings of work to pick up his 14th win and sixth in his last seven starts. Caldwell has been a revelation since Kuenn took over, going 9-3 with a 3.63 ERA since early July and 7-1 with a 2.70 ERA since August 1.
If there was anything to worry about as a Brewers fan following this game it was Gorman Thomas’ health. He injured his arm in the second making a throw and struggled with the pain for the rest of the game.
Thomas originally hurt the arm 12 days ago in Anaheim making a diving catch. Manager Harvey Kuenn says it’s something that most players would miss time with, but Thomas simply treats it with ice.
Thomas was in so much pain that he asked Charlie Moore, who was playing right, to go after anything close.
“I was shading everyone to center more than I usually would,” Moore said. “He also told me if a ball got through to get ready to make a throw for him. You know he’s really hurting when he says something like that and is showing pain on his face.”
The Brewers need to get healthy because their rivals are getting stronger. The Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox each won to remain 4 and 4 1/2 games back respectively.