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PHI@MIL: Braun's two-run shot cuts Phils' lead to one

MILWAUKEE -- The same issues that haunted Mike Fiers in his last start in Colorado gave him problems again on Saturday at Miller Park. And although the damage wasn't as bad, the results were no different.

Fiers walked three, hit another and allowed four runs in the first four innings against the Phillies. And with Cole Hamels pitching on the other side, those four runs would be just enough, as the Brewers lost, 4-3, ending their home winning streak at eight games.

Much like when he gave up eight runs in just two innings against the Rockies, Fiers said he couldn't get his breaking pitches over, which made it too easy for the Philadelphia hitters.

"I don't think they had the curveball in the back of their mind; I think they were canceling it out since I wasn't throwing it for strikes often," Fiers said. "They were really just sitting on the fastball. A day like this, when my offspeed stuff isn't up to par, my fastball's got to be commanded very well. I made a couple mistakes, but I tried to limit as much as I can, and we end up losing by one run."

The big mistakes came in the second, when a leadoff walk led to a two-run homer by John Mayberry Jr. Erik Kratz took Fiers deep in the next at-bat to put the Phillies on top, 3-0.

Entering the game, Fiers had surrendered only three home runs in 82 innings. He had allowed two long balls in a game just once, June 3 against the Pirates, and Phillies manager Charlie Manuel was happy his team was able to do the same.

"I would love it when we manufacture runs and play small ball, but home runs help you get something quick," Manuel said. "If you have to get on the board real quick, that's the best way I know to get them."

Aramis Ramirez homered to quickly get one run back for the Brewers in the bottom of the second, but the Phillies scored again in the third on Ryan Howard's double, scoring Chase Utley from first base.

On the mound for Philadelphia, Hamels was solid, allowing eight hits and three runs over 7 2/3 innings, but Milwaukee did its fair share of helping him out.

The Brewers had a golden opportunity to climb closer in the third before the first of two baserunning gaffes ended the chance. After Jonathan Lucroy reached on a two-out single, Ryan Braun came within inches of a home run, hitting the yellow line on top of the wall in left field.

The ball bounced back into play and Lucroy missed the bag rounding second while watching to see if it was gone. With Braun halfway to second by the time Lucroy came back to touch the base, the Phillies caught the reigning NL MVP in a rundown and ended the inning.

"Hindsight, I probably should have kept running," Lucroy said. "I asked [Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins and second baseman Chase Utley] if they saw it, and they both said no."

In the sixth, Norichika Aoki led off with a walk and a stolen base. However, with Braun up, Aoki was thrown out after a pickoff move by Hamels.

"I was just trying to shuffle off the base," Aoki said. "I wasn't necessarily trying to steal, and he just caught me off guard."

The miscues loomed large after Braun hit a two-run shot to right field in the eighth following Lucroy's second single of the game. The homer -- Braun's fourth in the last three games -- chased Hamels, but Jonathan Pabelbon came on to record the final four outs for his 27th save.

Fiers' night, which ended after five innings, put him at 142 innings this year, including his Minor League statistics. His previous career high was 126 in 2011, and he's only been over 100 in one other season (2010). Manager Ron Roenicke said he doesn't believe that fatigue is a factor in Fiers' recent struggles yet, but he did say he will be watching the 27-year-old rookie closely.

As for Fiers' opinion, he said he feels good with a month and a half to play.

"I feel like I can finish this season out strong," Fiers said. "That's what I hope to do. I've heard rumors about limiting my innings and getting shut down, but I try not to worry about that. I'm looking forward to my next start. I need to be better."

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