MILWAUKEE (AP) - Eric Thames is showing signs of breaking out of a prolonged slump that led to a two-day stint on the bench last week.
Thames belted a pair of home runs to back another strong pitching performance by Jimmy Nelson and lead the Milwaukee Brewers to a 6-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday.
“I relaxed for a few days. I was hanging out with (hitting coach Darnell Coles) a lot talking mechanics,” Thames said.
Brewers manager Craig Counsell said he has seen an improvement in Thames since returning to the lineup.
“He’s had a couple of good days, for sure. He’s swinging the bat well,” Counsell said.
Stephen Vogt and Travis Shaw also homered for the Brewers and Nelson (7-4) continued his resurgence, winning for the fifth time in six decisions. He gave up six hits and an unearned run in seven innings. He struck out eight and didn’t walk a batter.
“The first six innings, he was in as good a groove as we’ve seen him this year,” Counsell said.
Nelson held the Orioles in check even without strong command of his fastball.
“I didn’t have my best fastball today, but I was able to throw my off-speed stuff for strikes, especially early in the game,” Nelson said.
He credited battery mate Vogt, the veteran whom the Brewers claimed off waivers from Oakland last week, for his pitch calls and defense behind the plate.
“We were on the same page and that was the first time he caught me,” Nelson said. “He blocks everything. He is tough as nails back there.”
The Brewers jumped ahead on Vogt’s two-run homer in the second off Orioles starter Ubaldo Jimenez (3-4). Vogt has three home runs since joining the Brewers. Keon Broxton followed with a bunt single, then stole second and scored on Orlando Arcia’s single.
Thames belted a solo home run off Jimenez with one out in the fifth. With two outs in the inning, Shaw hit a solo shot as the lead ballooned to 5-0.
The Orioles got a run in the seventh on Joey Rickard’s run-scoring single. The Orioles had two on with one out but Nelson fanned the last two batters to end the threat. Nelson yelled and pumped his arms as he left the field.
Milwaukee extended the lead to 6-1 in the seventh on Thames’ second homer of the game. Thames has gone deep 23 times this season.
Jonathan Schoop hit a solo homer for Baltimore in the ninth.
Jimenez, who pitched two-hit ball over eight shutout innings at Toronto in his previous start, gave up five runs and six hits over five innings.
“We made some bad pitches and they made us pay,” Showalter said.
Shaw had gone 52 consecutive games at third base without committing an error. That streak appeared to end in the seventh when he was charged with an error on a throw to first that deflected off Thames’ glove. The official scorer changed the ruling following the game, giving the error to Thames.
The Orioles recalled RHP Tyler Wilson and optioned RHP Jimmy Yacabonis, who started Monday’s game, to Triple-A Norfolk. .LHP Jayson Aquino will be recalled from Norfolk on Wednesday and RHP Chris Tillman will be placed on the paternity list.
Orioles: Closer Zach Britton is expected to be activated on Wednesday. Britton, who has been on the disabled list since April with a left forearm strain, was 47-for-47 in save chances last year and had a 0.54 ERA in 69 games. He is 0-0 with five saves and a 1.00 ERA in eight games this season. …OF Mark Trumbo left the game in the sixth after fouling a ball off his left calf. Initial X-rays came back negative, Showalter said. “It got to the point where he couldn’t really function on it,” he said.
Brewers: Shaw started after leaving Monday’s game when hit on the left hand by a 93 mph pitch in the second inning. Shaw initially stayed in the game but left in the fourth with a contusion. .INF Eric Sogard didn’t start due to ankle soreness. “He was running the bases in Cincinnati and had to stop real quick at third base, so it’s still a little bit sore,” manager Craig Counsell said. .OF Ryan Braun got the day off to rest.
Orioles: Showalter announced prior to the game that Aquino will start on Wednesday. Aquino is 1-1 with a 9.00 ERA in three appearances, including one start, for Baltimore this season. “I’m confident that I can do a good job here, especially as a starter,” Aquino said through a translator.
Brewers: Matt Garza (3-4) is 9-1 with a 3.11 ERA in 13 career starts against the Orioles but has not faced Baltimore since May 27, 2014.
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