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WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUND-UP: Brewers losing NL Central lead before All-Star break

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MILWAUKEE - The Milwaukee Brewers lost ground to three surging teams in the National League Central Division, after losing at home to Philadelphia 3-2 last night.  

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The Brewers still have a four-game lead over Saint Louis, which moved back into second place.  Pittsburgh is four-and-a-half back, and fourth-place Cincinnati gained a game with a win and is now just five off the pace.  The Brewers never led last night, as Philly scored all its runs in the first three innings.  Chase Utley hit a two-run homer in the first -- the 27th given up by Marco Estrada this season.  Ryan Howard drove in the eventual game-winner in the third, on a single that scored Utley in a hit-and-run play.  Jeff Bianchi drove in Milwaukee's only two runs with a bases-loaded single in the fifth inning.  Ryan Braun returned from back spasms.  He had a double and a single in four trips.  Estrada went five innings for the loss.  He's 7-and-6.  Cole Hamels earned his first win since June sixth.  He struck out seven in six-and-two-thirds innings as he improved to 3-5.  Jonathan Papelbon got his 20th save, as the Phillies won for only the fourth time in their last 17 games.  Milwaukee has now lost six of their last seven, and will host the Phillies again tonight.  Right-hander Wily Peralta starts against Philadelphia right-hander Kyle Kendrick.

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The Brewers have still not announced the signing of Dominican shortstop Gilbert Lara, because they're still working to avoid a luxury tax for international player bonuses.  Last Wednesday, the Brewers agreed to a team-record $3.1 million bonus for the 16-year-old Lara.  That's about a half-million more than the Brewers' total pool for signing foreign players.  The Milwaukee  Journal-Sentinel says the Brewers have closed the gap a little, by trading right-handed pitching prospect Rodolfo Fernandez to Oakland for an international signing slot valued at $339,000. Without at least one other trade, the Brewers would have to pay at least a 100-percent luxury tax on the amount they go over their bonus limit.  Fernandez was 1-0 this season with the Class-"A" Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.  He had a 2.87 ERA in 14 relief appearances.

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Brewers' catcher Jonathan Lucroy says it will be an honor to join three of his Milwaukee teammates at next week's All-Star Game.  Lucroy was named yesterday as a National League reserve for the July 15th Mid-Summer Classic in Minneapolis.  He was chosen by the players, along with Brewers' closer Francisco Rodriguez.  Center-fielder Carlos Gomez and third baseman Aramis Ramirez were elected by the fans.  Lucroy said it was a testament to Milwaukee's strong season as the leaders of the NL Central Division.  He said the better teams have more players at the All-Star Game -- and the number of Milwaukee All-Stars shows how good the team really is.  Ramirez believes he was chosen because Brewers' fans stuffed the ballot boxes.  He was sure that 90-to-95 percent of his support came from Wisconsin voters -- and he thanked them for their votes.  Ramirez is heading to his fourth All-Star Game.  This is the first time he was elected to start.  

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After having Monday off, the Class-"A" Midwest League returns tonight.  The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers will open a series at Cedar Rapids.  The Beloit Snappers remain at home to face Burlington.  The Rattlers are 9-8 in the second half of the season, three-and-a-half games behind first-place Kane County in the Western Division.  Beloit is last in the West at 4-12, eight games off the pace with just 16 down.

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It's been six years since Brian Brohm competed with Matt Flynn for the Green Bay Packers' back-up quarterback job behind Aaron Rodgers.  Flynn won that job, left for three other NFL teams in the hopes of becoming a starter, then returned to Green Bay after Rodgers got hurt last year. Brohm, meanwhile, has surfaced in the Canadian Football League as the Number-two quarterback for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.  He joined the Packer practice squad in '08 after losing his competition with Flynn.  Brohm then moved on to the Buffalo practice squad, a series of workouts in the United Football League, and then to the CFL.  The 28-year-old Brohm said he was too hard on himself during his tenure at Green Bay.  He said he let too many bad plays bother him -- something he doesn't do anymore.  Brohm, who threw for over ten-thousand yards in college at Louisville, says his experience has humbled him.  And his only goal now is to be a pro quarterback for as long as he can.  

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The Milwaukee Bucks will start practicing today in Las Vegas for a five-game NBA Summer League schedule that begins on Friday night against Cleveland. New head coach Jason Kidd will be on hand, but his assistant Sean Sweeney is expected to run the bench for the Summer League contests.  Kidd will be busy evaluating his first-and-second year players which make up the summer rosters -- including first-round rookie forward Jabari Parker, and second-year swingman Giannis Antetokounmpo.  One of Milwaukee's two second-round picks will also play -- forward-and-center Johnny O'Bryant.  The Bucks' other second-rounder, Damien Inglis, will not play as he recovers from a broken foot suffered during pre-draft auditions.  

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For the second time in a row, University of Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon is a candidate for the Maxwell Award as college football's national player of the year.  Gordon was placed on the award's watch list today.  He was a semi-finalist for the Maxwell last season, when he ran for 1,609 yards.  Gordon led the nation with 7.8 yards per rushing attempt.  1999 Heisman Trophy winner Ron Dayne is the only Badger ever to win the Maxwell Award -- which he received in his Heisman campaign. 

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University of Wisconsin men's soccer assistant coach Ian Sarachan is on the staff for the U.S. Under-17 national squad.  He's helping head coach Richie Williams work with 38 players at a training camp and scrimmages that began this past weekend.  The camp runs through Saturday in Carson, California.  The U.S. squad is scrimmaging against Club Tijuana's Under-18 team, as well as the Orange County Blue Stars of southern California.  Sarachan will begin his second season as a UW assistant this fall.

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The interim athletic director at Division III Marian University has been given the job on a permanent basis.  Jason Bartelt has been at the private Fond du Lac school for the last 13 years as an assistant AD and baseball coach.  Among other things, Bartelt has overseen the construction of a new baseball stadium at Marian, along with a new indoor practice facility.  Marian has also announced the hiring of Marcus Wiegert as its new men's-and-women's tennis coach, as well as a men's basketball assistant.  Wiegert is a Marian graduate, and has been an assistant at Carroll and UW-Superior.  He replaces tennis coach John Frausto, who will stay on as an assistant.

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Steve Stricker of Madison dropped one place to 19th in the new World Golf Rankings released today.  Stricker was hoping to score some points to make the U.S. Ryder Cup team, with a strong showing at the Greenbrier Classic this past weekend.  But he had his worst round of the tournament yesterday at four-over, and ended up in a tie for 35th.  Pewaukee native Mark Wilson dropped another ten places in the new rankings to 347th.  Wilson made the weekend cut at the Greenbrier, but he sat out yesterday's final round after going plus-four after the first three days. 

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SCOREBOARD

In Major League Baseball...

Philadelphia 3, Milwaukee 2

Cincinnati 9, Chicago Cubs 3

Chicago White Sox 4, Boston 0

Seattle 2, Minnesota 0

In the Midwest League...

No games scheduled

In the Northwoods League...

Lakeshore 5, Green Bay 4

Kenosha 4, Wisconsin 3 in Game-One

Kenosha 4, Wisconsin 1 in Game-Two

Madison 7, Kalamazoo 4

La Crosse 14, Battle Creek 2

Wisconsin Rapids 5, Thunder Bay 1, suspended in 4th inning

Alexandria at Eau Claire, rained out

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