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MIL@ATL: Lohse strikes out five in two-hit shutout

ATLANTA -- For a moment, forget the fight.

Did you see Kyle Lohse pitch on Wednesday night?

While the baseball world watched replays of a benches-clearing melee between the Brewers and Braves in the top of the first inning, Lohse worked with the kind of stuff that produces no-hitters. He settled instead for an 89-pitch, two-hit shutout in his final scheduled start, a 4-0 Brewers win on a tense night at Turner Field.

"Definitely got the adrenaline going earlier than expected," said Lohse, who took the field for the fight before he took the mound to pitch.

Lohse threw complete games in two of his final three starts to cap his debut season with Milwaukee, and became only the sixth pitcher in Brewers history to throw a shutout with fewer than 90 pitches -- the first since Chris Bosio in September 1992. The last Major Leaguer to throw a nine-inning shutout with fewer than 90 pitches was Boston's Aaron Cook against the Mariners in June 2012.

Considering the way the game began, with Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez staring too long at a first-inning home run, and the Braves responding with sharp words, and catcher Brian McCann blocking Gomez's path to the plate, and the dugouts emptying for a fight that drifted to the backstop, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke figured he had the right man on the mound.

"You get fired up, and somehow how have to calm down, and it all starts with Kyle," Roenicke said. "Kyle goes back out to the mound and deals. He got into a flow, working quick. When you're out in the field playing behind a guy who's doing that, that's what it's all about. That's the ideal game to play behind a guy."

For most of the game, the Braves' only hit was a bunt single by leadoff man Andrelton Simmons that dribbled down the third-base line and refused to roll foul. After that, Lohse retired 20 batters in a row, throwing only 30 pitches through the first four innings and an efficient 54 pitches through the end of the sixth.

"It felt good to go out there and establish that I was going to throw strikes, and they were swinging," Lohse said. "The result of that is, with good defense behind me, I'm going to have a decent game. That was a little better than decent."

In the seventh, Evan Gattis snapped Lohse's streak with a two-out single to left field, but Lohse retired Brian McCann to preserve a Brewers lead that had grown to 3-0.

The first of those runs garnered most of the attention. It was produced by Gomez, the second batter of the game, who watched his solo home run sail into the left-center field seats a bit too long for Braves starter Paul Maholm, catcher McCann and first baseman Freddie Freeman.

All expressed their displeasure when Gomez finally began his trot, and Gomez shared angry words of his own, all the way around the bases. He pointed to his left knee, which had been struck by a Maholm pitch back on June 23 at Miller Park.

When McCann angrily confronted Gomez about three-quarters down the third-base line, preventing completion of the now-viral home run trot, the benches emptied and a fight erupted that led to ejections for Gomez, Freeman and Braves backup catcher Gerald Laird.

"I think any baseball person, whether you were in the stands, watching the game in the dugout or watching the replay on TV, would be astonished about what happened going around the bases," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.

Gomez admitted his role in the fight.

"I did a little bit more [than he should have], and I apologize for this," Gomez said. "But if you see the replay [from June], they hit me for no reason, and I tried to get it back today. It's the only opportunity that I have, and that's what I did. It's nothing against the organization, the Braves. I respect everyone. I would do the same thing if I'm on the other side if a guy did like I did today.

"I feel bad for all that happened today, because they're in a situation, they're going to the playoffs, and I don't want anybody to get injured from my team or from their team."

Once tempers cooled, the game proceeded without incident. Brewers first baseman Sean Halton padded the lead with a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning, and Norichika Aoki added an RBI single in the seventh that was set up by Lohse's single, plus another RBI single in the ninth inning that was set up by Lohse's sacrifice bunt.

On the mound, Lohse was just as efficient. After allowing the Gattis hit in the seventh inning that snapped his streak of 20 consecutive batters retired, Lohse threw nine pitches in the eighth inning and nine more in the ninth.

It was the 10th complete game of his career and seventh shutout.

The best part was that Roenicke suggested a few days ago that Lohse pitch five innings or so and call it a season. They decided, Roenicke said, to "see how the game goes. If it was stressed, then I'll get you out of there a little early."

So much for that.

"I didn't even say a word to him," Roenicke said.

"I definitely messed up that plan for him," Lohse said. "We talked a couple days ago about what I wanted to get out of it. I said, 'If you feel it's time for me to go, pull me,' but obviously when you're going like that it forces him to leave me in there. So it felt good to do it that way."

Lohse finished the first season of a three-year contract with an 11-10 record and a 3.35 ERA in 32 starts. He led the Brewers with 20 quality starts and 198 2/3 innings.

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