Campillo dominant in win over Brewers
Righty strikes out six, walks none in five innings in series finale
MILWAUKEE -- What had the potential to be a fruitful trip to Wisconsin consisted of a forgettable beginning and a satisfying conclusion. In other words, this current road trip still has the potential to be much different than any of the previous ones, each of which were certainly maddening.
Instead of boarding their charter flight to Cincinnati feeling the effects of a three-game sweep, the Braves exited Milwaukee late Thursday afternoon energized by Jorge Campillo and a rare offensive uprising outside the Atlanta city limits.
After scoring just two runs in the first two games of the series at Miller Park, the Braves' offense erupted, preventing a sweep with Thursday afternoon's 8-1 win over the Brewers. Providing most of the spark was Mark Teixeira, who used his powerful stroke to construct a four-RBI performance that included his first homer since May 10.
Still, after preventing the sweep and winning for just the seventh time in 25 road games, Teixeira and his teammates are aware of the opportunities they squandered this week in Milwaukee. The Braves surrendered a total of five runs over 25 innings and still left town with just one victory.
"It's disappointing," said Chipper Jones, who contributed two hits and raised his Major League-leading batting average to .420. "We're of the belief that we should have won all three [games]. We certainly should have won the series."
Considering that it was just their third win in the past 13 road games, the Braves have reason to accept this victory and hope that it serves as a springboard to further road success. At the same time, this victorious series finale gave manager Bobby Cox another opportunity to gain even more confidence in Campillo, who allowed just one earned run and four hits in five innings.
"He was throwing that invisi-ball up there and he had [Brewers first baseman] Prince [Fielder] talking to himself down there at first [base]," Jones said.
Fielder also had a rare opportunity to talk directly to Campillo, when the Braves right-hander capped a five-run fifth inning with his first Major League hit -- a two-run single off Brewers reliever Tim Dillard.
While the single provided a milestone moment, the past 10 days have provided Campillo a chance to prove he can be an effective big league starter. In the three starts he's made, he's worked 15 innings, surrendered nine hits and allowed just one run.
For those keeping count, Campillo has now driven in one more run than he's allowed since moving into the starting rotation last week.
The lone run came when Campillo's first pitch of the fifth inning on Thursday was deposited into the right-field seats by Russell Branyan, for the first run charged to the Braves hurler since May 10 -- a scoreless streak that spanned 20 1/3 innings.
After the game, Campillo admitted that the blister he's battled over the past week opened up before he took the mound in the fifth.
"We hope he can make his next start," Cox said. "Even if he can just give us five good innings like this, it would be great. "
Campillo was in the Mexican League from 1997-2004, before making his first Major League start with the Mariners in 2005. The start lasted just one inning because of an elbow injury that would cost him nearly two full seasons. After he led the Pacific Coast League in ERA last year, the Braves took advantage of the fact that the Mariners left him unprotected and signed him as a Minor League free agent.
"It's a great story," Cox said. "He's a gifted pitcher."
While pitching four scoreless innings before his blister wore down on Saturday, Campillo caused one of the Diamondbacks to reach first base and tell Teixeira that it seemed like he'd just batted against Greg Maddux.
Campillo's pinpoint control, exemplified by his 33 strikeouts and just five walks in 36 1/3 innings this year, and ability to dominate without overpowering stuff is what has caused some to draw comparisons to Maddux.
"If you change speeds and locate with three different pitches, you can win," Jones said.
Unlike Tim Hudson and Jo-Jo Reyes the previous two nights, Campillo also received necessary support from a Braves offense that, entering Thursday, had scored just two runs in the previous 27 road innings.
Teixeira willed the game's first run when he collided with Brewers starter Seth McClung as the big right-hander was attempting to cover first base on a grounder that could have potentially ended the third inning. Instead, McClung and the ball fell to the ground, allowing Yunel Escobar to score the game's first run.
The miscue, which was aided by second baseman Rickie Weeks' weak toss to first base, provided a spark for the Braves, who took command when Teixeira followed an intentional walk to Jones with his three-run homer in the fifth. It was the switcth-hitting first baseman's sixth homer of the season and first in his past 60 at-bats.
After gaining a big advantage, the Braves capped the series with Rafael Soriano tossing a scoreless ninth inning that included a few fastballs that were clocked at 94 mph. It was the first appearance for the right-handed reliever since he went on the disabled list on April 7 with a sore right elbow.
From a pitching perspective, this was a memorable trip to Milwaukee. But unless they can throw out the first two days, the Braves' offense isn't going to have fond memories of this journey to Wisconsin.
"The way our pitching produced, [our pitchers] deserved to win at least two of the games," Teixeira said. "We just have to score more runs for them."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.