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WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUND-UP: Brewers ready to begin series with Blue Jays

MILWAUKEE - The Milwaukee Brewers' division lead has been cut to two-and-a-half games.  The Crew was off yesterday, while second-place Saint Louis edged Cincinnati 6-5 in 10 innings at Busch Stadium.  

Jhonny Peralta had a walk-off hit over Ryan Ludwick's head in left.  That dropped the fourth-place Reds to nine games behind Milwaukee in the National League Central.  Third-place Pittsburgh is now six games back, after losing at home to Atlanta last night 7-3.  The Pirates have lost six games in a row, and they'll have to face the Brewers at Miller Park this weekend.  Milwaukee has a four-game winning streak going into an Interleague series tonight at home against the Toronto Blue Jays.  Right-hander Mike Fiers will try to win his third start in a row for the Crew, in place of the injured Matt Garza.  Right-handed knuckle-baller R.A. Dickey will start for the Blue Jays.


Central Wisconsin native Jordan Zimmermann had a quality start with a no-decision last night, as his Washington Nationals topped Arizona 5-4 at home in 11 innings.  The former U-W Stevens Point right-hander from Auburndale went seven innings, giving up three runs on four hits with three walks and two strikeouts.  Craig Stammen got the win in relief for the Nationals, who now join the Brewers and Los Angeles with 70 wins this season.  The Nats have a six-game lead over second-place Atlanta in the National League East.


Brewers' minor league prospect Jorge Ortega has been named the Pioneer Rookie League's pitcher-of-the-week.  The 21-year-old right-hander from Venezuela had his best outing of the season last week against Idaho Falls, giving up three hits in seven scoreless innings.  Ortega had trouble with gopher balls earlier this season.  He gave up eight homers in four starts last month.  Now, Ortega has gone 12 innings without anybody homering against him.  The Brewers signed him in 2011 as a non-drafted free agent.


Andrew Quarless is back in the running for the Green Bay Packers' Number-One tight end.  That's after Brandon Bostick suffered a lower leg injury in Saturday's Packer exhibition win at Saint Louis.  Coach Mike McCarthy would not say if the injury had anything to do with a broken foot Bostick suffered last year.  The coach did say that surgery won't be necessary, and Bostick will be out for a couple of weeks.  Bostick was in the running to replace Jermichael Finley as Green Bay's top tight end.  The injury gives Quarless a chance to move up.  Quarless caught four passes for 58 yards against the Rams.  He was also called for offensive pass interference for pushing off on a defender on what could have been a touchdown.  The Packers returned to practice yesterday after their first pre-season win -- and they'll work out again today.


Green Bay Packers' Head Coach Mike McCarthy said he was pleased with yesterday's practice.  He said the players had their best tempo of the year -- and it resulted in an early finish for each period of emphasis.  The starting units have pretty much held together in the first three-plus weeks of camp.  McCarthy said the uniformity makes the units get better each day -- but he's still trying to use as many combinations as possible, so the coaches can evaluate those on the bubble.  The Packers' 90-man roster won't be cut for the first time until next week.   Green Bay is 1-1 in the exhibition season.  Game-Three is on Friday night at Lambeau Field against the Oakland Raiders. 


Madison golfer Steve Stricker is out for the year.  He told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel he has back and hip issues, and he'll shut down his golf play until at least December.  That means Stricker will miss the Fed-Ex Cup playoffs for the first time, and there's no chance he'll play in the Ryder Cup in September -- even though he will be an assistant captain for the U.S. team.  The 47-year-old Stricker has had a torn labrum in his left hip since the U.S. Open in June. He has also had herniated disks in his neck and back.  Stricker played in eleven PGA Tour events in his second year of a limited schedule.  He had two Top-10 finishes, and was seventh at the recent PGA Championship. Steve Stricker of Madison remains 21st in the new World Golf Rankings.


Eric Busalacchi of Waukesha is the first-round leader at the State Open golf tournament in Sheboygan Falls.  He shot a course-record six-under-par 66 yesterday at The Bull at Pinehurst Farms.  He has a two-stroke lead over Kevin Cahill of Waukesha and Ryan Helminen of Menasha.  Busalacchi turned pro last year after helping Carroll University of Waukesha win a Midwest Conference title.  He placed second at last year's state Match Play Championship.


The University of Wisconsin football team held its second full-scale scrimmage yesterday.  Coach Gary Andersen says he will not announce a starter for the August 30th season opener against LSU.  Returning starter Joel Stave has had more snaps and better production than sophomore Tanner McAvoy in the practices that reporters have been able to watch.  Andersen says he intends to mold the Badger offense around both quarterbacks, with an eye toward improving the team's running ability at that spot.  Freshman D.J. Gillins could also get some playing time at quarterback this season.  A few players were held out of yesterday's scrimmage -- but Andersen said they could have played, had it been an actual game.  Linebacker Vince Biegel is expected to return in a couple of days after a concussion.  Linebackers Marcus and Michael Trotter, Derek Landisch, and Jesse Hayes also sat out -- as did receivers Jazz Peavy and Robert Wheelwright, safety Leo Musso, and defensive ends Alec James and Chikwe Obasih. 



In Major League Baseball... National League Central race... Saint Louis 6, Cincinnati 5 Atlanta 7, Pittsburgh 3 In regional action... Chicago Cubs 4, New York Mets 1 Baltimore 8, Chicago White Sox 2 Kansas City 6, Minnesota 4 In the Midwest League... Beloit 6, Peoria 4 Clinton 10, Wisconsin 5