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Sexson has career-high seven RBI in victory |

Sexson has career-high seven RBI in victory

The Associated Press
| Friday, April 19, 2002 12:00 a.m

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Jerry Royster planned to celebrate his first victory as a major league manager over a late-night dinner with the man he replaced.

For a change, the topic of conversation between him and Davey Lopes was a Milwaukee victory.

Richie Sexson homered twice and drove in a career-high seven runs as Milwaukee beat the St. Louis Cardinals 7-5 Thursday night in Royster’s first game as the Brewers’ interim manager.

“A dear friend of mine got let go, he’s at home just happy as a lark for me,” Royster said. “It was a strange day leading into it, taking over for your buddy. But the game is a game. This is baseball and I’ve got to go out there and do everything I can to get some victories for the Brewers now.

“I’ll see Davey tonight. I’m sure the first thing he’s going to do is give me a hug.”

Before leaving the ballpark, Lopes said he “had a good cry” with Royster and pitching coach Dave Stewart, all of whom have been “like brothers” since their playing days in the Dodgers organization more than 20 years ago.

Lopes was fired after the Brewers’ 3-12 start, the worst in franchise history.

“It took all I had to hold my tears back with Stew,” Royster said. “It was a tough day but at least it ended with a victory.”

Thanks to a valiant effort by starting pitcher Nelson Figueroa and three relievers and Sexson’s seven RBI, which equaled the franchise high set by Ted Kubiak at Boston on July 18, 1970, and tied April 12 of last year by Jose Hernandez against Houston.

Sexson had a two-run triple in the first inning, added a two-run homer off starter Darryl Kile in the sixth and hit a three-run shot to center field off Luther Hackman (0-2) in the seventh.

That ball bounced off the glove of Kerry Robinson, who replaced Jim Edmonds an inning earlier, and it erased Milwaukee’s 5-4 deficit.

“It was already a couple of feet behind me. If it had been at the wall, I would have caught it,” Robinson said.

Geoff Jenkins thought it might be caught and Sexson had to holler at him not to turn around lest they pass each other on basepaths and negate the homer.

“That would have been our luck,” Sexson said.

Jose Cabrera (1-2) pitched one hitless inning in relief for his first victory since coming to the Brewers from Atlanta in a spring training trade, and Mike DeJean pitched the ninth for his second save.

St. Louis took a 4-0 lead by the fourth inning thanks to two sacrifice flies by Mike Matheny, an RBI double by Tino Martinez and a run-scoring single by Eli Marrero.

The Brewers cut that deficit in half on Sexson’s two-run triple with nobody out in their half of the fourth, but he was stranded on third as Milwaukee continued to display the type of missed opportunities that led to Lopes’ dismissal.

J.D. Drew’s fourth homer gave St. Louis a 5-2 lead in the fifth. Sexson’s two-run, 430-foot shot in the sixth pulled Milwaukee to 5-4.

Sexson’s three-run shot an inning later came with one out after Hackman walked Eric Young and plunked Jenkins in the hip.

Sexson’s previous career high was five RBI set several times, most recently Oct. 7, 2001, at Arizona.

Figueroa gave up five runs and six hits in six innings, but he gave the Brewers’ beleaguered bullpen a break.

“If you look at the stat sheet it looks like he got roughed up,” DeJean said. “But what he did for the bullpen was really huge.”

Royster concurred: “He could have folded early when they got their runs. But he went out there with five runs and pitched a great sixth inning. That was a great, great game: pitching, defense and offense today.”

And it allowed the Brew Crew to snap a five-game losing skid at Miller Park and give Milwaukee its second victory in 12 games.

“It feels great,” Royster said. “We needed it so bad. Even as a coach I was waiting on that, and to get it as manager is even more special. We finally broke out. We got some big hits, scored some runs.”

Things the Brewers just didn’t do for Lopes.

Game notes

Edmonds left the game in the bottom of the sixth with discomfort in the hip and groin area of his left leg. … The Cards placed pitchers Andy Benes and Garrett Stephenson on the 15-day DL and recalled right-handed pitchers Josh Pearce and Mike Crudale from Triple-A Memphis. Benes is out with an arthritic right knee. Stephenson has a lower back strain. … INF Placido Polanco was a late scratch with a bone bruise on his right hand. He’s day-to-day.

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