Brewers Halt 5-Game Losing Streak

Edwin Timwell tries to usher a northern bottle-nosed whale away from the tidal shore of the River Thames near Battersea Bridge in central London Friday, Jan. 20, 2006.
First, Jose Valentin had to conceal his fright and cover up the blood at home plate. Then, he wiped out Milwaukee's five-game losing streak.

Valentin, who struck out his first three times up, hit a two-run single in the ninth inning Tuesday night to give Milwaukee a 3-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The winning hit came just moments after Mike Matheny was hit square in his left cheek with a 95 mph fastball from closer Rich Loiselle.

"I was shaken," said Valentin, who rushed to Matheny, who looked stunned himself.

The pitch didn't knock Matheny down, and Valentin thought it had hit him on the shoulder.

"It looked like he had chewing tobacco in his mouth, his cheek was so big," Valentin said. "I got his blood on my batting gloves and then when I got up to the plate I looked down and saw a pool of blood. I was trying to kick dirt over it to get that image out of my mind. I was scared."

Matheny needed stitches to close the deep laceration inside his cheek. Although his face wasn't cut, it was swollen and discolored.

"He's got a big gash inside his cheek," Brewers manager Phil Garner said. "His jaw looks fine. He can clench his teeth. But it's ugly-looking."

The Brewers don't think Matheny will end up on the disabled list like his backup, Jesse Levis (shoulder), but he'll probably miss at least a game.

Matheny showered before heading to the hospital after the game. As he left the clubhouse, he poked his head in Garner's office and announced: "I can play tomorrow."

Garner smiled.

"He's one tough son of a gun," the manager said.

And one the Brewers can ill afford to lose for any length of time.

The Brewers, who had been 0-20 when trailing after eight innings, began the winning rally with a single by pinch-hitter Bob Hamelin, who then was lifted for pinch-runner Darrin Jackson.

With one out, Geoff Jenkins singled and Matheny was hit in the face. Matheny spat up blood but walked off on his own, with backup catcher Bobby Hughes pinch-running for him.

Valentin then sent a 2-1 fastball into the gap in right-center to hand Loiselle (1-4) the loss and give Mike Myers (2-0), who faced just one batter in the ninth, the victory.

Valentin began jumping and pumping his fists on his way to first base and the Brewers bench mobbed him after he touched the bag.

"Hopefully, everything changes," Valentin said. "We've had a lot of key guys struggling and sometimes it takes something like this to snap out of it."

Loiselle, who blew five saves in 34 chances last year, matched that number in just his 16th opportunity this season.

"He had five days of rest, which is a lot for a closer, but like he has been at times this year, he was ust wild," Pirates manager Gene Lamont said.

Jermaine Allensworth's sacrifice fly off Bob Wickman in the eighth had given the Pirates a 2-1 lead.

Pirates starter Francisco Cordova cruised through six innings, striking out a season-best eight and giving up three hits before the Brewers began the seventh with four consecutive singles, including Matheny's line drive that tied it at 1.

Reliever Jason Christiansen struck out Valentin on a full-count changeup, forcing Garner to pinch-hit Mark Loretta for pitcher Scott Karl. Elmer Dessens then got Loretta to ground into a double play.

Karl gave up five hits and one unearned run in seven innings.

Before the game, the Pirates promoted 19-year-old third baseman Aramis Ramirez from Triple-A Nashville to take the roster spot of left-handed reliever Jeff Tabaka, who went on the 15-day DL with a fractured jaw. He was punched Sunday night during a dispute with roommate and fellow reliever Marc Wilkins at a Milwaukee hotel.

Ramirez, who became the youngest starter in the majors, went 0-for-3 with a walk.

Notes: Wendy Selig-Prieb, who has been running the Brewers while her father, Bud Selig, serves as acting commissioner, had her first baby, Natalie Marie, on Monday. ... Tuesday was the 39th anniversary of one of the greatest pitching performances in major league history, when Pittsburgh's Harvey Haddix threw 12 perfect innings against the Milwaukee Braves. The Pirates lost that game 1-0 in the 13th when the Braves scored on an error, a sacrifice and a double by first baseman Joe Adcock.

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