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Davis struggles again as Brewers fall to Cubs

CHICAGO -- When Milwaukee general manager Doug Melvin brought left-hander Doug Davis back to the Brewers as a free agent over the winter, he noted that Davis "is going to have some ugly games from time to time."...

CHICAGO -- When Milwaukee general manager Doug Melvin brought left-hander Doug Davis back to the Brewers as a free agent over the winter, he noted that Davis "is going to have some ugly games from time to time."

Davis is 2 for 2 in that category, which he figures is enough to last him for a while.

"It's going to take a couple of good quality starts to make up for these two," Davis said Monday after getting cuffed around for seven hits and six runs in 3 1/3 innings in a 9-5 loss to the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.

Then, referring to manager Ken Macha, Davis added, "I'm not making Macha's job very easy. Hopefully, he'll back me until he can't anymore. That's all I can ask of a manager."

Two starts do not a season make, but Davis realizes the early returns on his second go-round with Milwaukee have not been good. In only 7 1/3 innings, he has surrendered 13 hits and 10 runs (12.27 ERA), with five walks and eight strikeouts.

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The Brewers were able to bounce back in Davis' first start to topple Colorado, 5-4, but there was no overcoming the five-run hole in which he put his club in the third inning against the Cubs, playing at home for the first time this season.

With two on and two down -- the Cubs scored all of their runs with two out -- Davis hung a 2-1 curveball to Xavier Nady that the new rightfielder whacked deep into the bleachers in left field. Two batters later, Davis missed with a 3-2 "cut" fastball and Jeff Baker socked a two-run homer.

"Two pitches cost me five runs," said Davis. "I thought I was doing well until then.

"I'm looking to redeem myself in my next two starts; make pitches better and come out on top. In six days I'll come back and try to correct things."

When Davis had trouble locating his fastball in the early going, catcher Gregg Zaun stopped calling it and went to the cutter and curveball more. That plan appeared to be working until Davis spun his hanger up to Nady.

"That curveball out over the plate to Nady did us in," said Zaun. "We weren't worried about walking Nady if it came to that, but we left it over the plate.

"I haven't caught (Davis) enough to really know when he's right. The cutter itself is a great pitch, but if you're not working off your fastball with it, it's not going to be as effective.

"If you take away those two pitches, it was a pretty good outing for a guy who didn't have his 'A' game. I saw some positives out there."

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Making Davis' outing more frustrating for the Brewers was the fact they did considerable damage to Cubs right-hander Ryan Dempster, a longtime nemesis who Macha says seems to always get the series opener against his club. In 39 career outings against Milwaukee, including 17 starts, Dempster was 11-3 with a 2.69 ERA, including a 3-1 mark last season.

This time, however, Dempster had to work to get through innings. Corey Hart got the Brewers on the board with an RBI single in the fourth, though the Brewers should have done more damage after back-to-back one-out doubles by Prince Fielder and Casey McGehee (Fielder held at third on McGehee's blooper).

Ryan Braun made the Cubs sweat a bit in the fifth with a three-run blast off Dempster, who allowed seven hits, four walks and five runs in 61/3 innings. Braun's second homer in two games drew the Brewers within 8-4 but they never got closer.

"Dempster has a good record against us," said Macha. "Down five runs in the third inning, I thought we did a good job of fighting back. If we got a quality start, we would have had a chance to win that game."

Davis compiled 22 quality starts last season, the third-highest total among National League lefties. But, as Melvin noted, he will produce the occasional stinker as well.

"We got him to help us win ball games," said Macha. "We've got to get him on track. Six runs in 3 1/3 innings is not good enough. Our hope is to have him pitch as he did in the past."

-- Copyright (c) 2010, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Related Topics: BASEBALLSUPERIOR
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