Originally posted on Fox Sports Wisconsin  |  Last updated 7/3/12
MILWAUKEE It looked like the Milwaukee Brewers were ready to set it to cruise control and ride to their fourth straight victory as they headed into the seventh inning of Tuesday's game with a 9-2 lead. But, as Marco Estrada left the game with a comfortable lead, the Brewers' easy ride to a win came to a screeching halt for an all-too-familiar reason. It started with Jose Veras, as the Brewers reliever was only able to manage one out, while loading the bases and giving up two runs in the process. He left the field to boos, as left-hander Manny Parra took over for 23 of an inning, managing to get out of it with just one extra run. Unfortunately for Milwaukee, the bullpen woes didn't stop there. Kameron Loe followed Veras' effort in the seventh inning by allowing four earned runs in the eighth, including a two-run home run to John Buck. Now, having watched his team's lead fall from seven runs to two runs, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke brought in Francisco Rodriguez, whom he'd hoped to rest for the game. Before the game, Roenicke even gave a vote of confidence to his setup man. "I have a lot of faith in Frankie," Roenicke said, "no matter what the situation is." Tuesday's effort didn't reward Roenicke's faith though, as Rodriguez gave up a home run to Florida's Scott Cousins, who hadn't managed a home run all season long. And after allowing Jose Reyes to score on a sac fly later in the inning, the Brewers had officially given up the seven-run lead that they held heading into the seventh inning. And for a bullpen that has struggled all season long, blowing plenty of leads over the course of the first half of the season, this was the latest and arguably worst group performance of the season. "We've got to get our bullpen straightened out," Roenicke said. "These guys, they're good pitchers, and for some reason, I don't know, I hope it's not that their confidence is slipping up a little bit." Loe said that the team's relievers are very cognizant of their sub-par efforts so far in 2012. "We don't feel like we're doing the best we can," Loe said. "We feel like we've got a lot more in the tank We still have half the season left." Veras said that the bullpen has struggled in part because of nagging injuries that have plagued the team all season long. He mentioned his own groin injury, Rodriguez's variety of injuries, and Loe's back pain as possible explanations for inconsistent work from relievers. "This is a team," Veras said. It's not about just the bullpen. If you see everything we've been through it's not easy. Lucky for the Brewers' bullpen, the rest of the team was able to pick them up this time, as Milwaukee's dynamic offense was able to put together one of its best performances of the season. Even after reliever Livan Hernandez gave up the ninth earned run by a Brewers reliever in the game on a Jose Reyes go-ahead home run, third baseman Aramis Ramirez was able to slam a two-run home run over the wall in center field, thus saving the Brewers from what would've likely been their toughest loss of the season and winning the game, 13-12. So for one night, the Brewers could celebrate, despite the rough go from their set of relievers. But will they be able to continue to win without the strong bullpen that kept them together last season? That remains to be seen. "They're going to get it," Roenicke said. "The nice thing is that we we've won four in a row now. That's pretty nice when we're concerned about our bullpen." Follow Ryan Kartje on Twitter.
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