Eric Gagne's mental break lasted all of two days.
Two days after telling reporters that he "didn't deserve the ninth inning," the embattled Brewers closer came in and picked up his 10th save of the season, working a long ninth inning as the Brewers beat Los Angeles, 5-3.
"He felt really good today," manager Ned Yost said. "I talked to him and asked him how he felt and if he was ready to take his role back; he said he was definitely ready for that."
The outing wasn't perfect; Gagne needed 23 pitches to get through the inning, including an eight-pitch at-bat by Russell Martin that resulted in a single and a 10-pitch walk to pinch-hitter Andruw Jones.
"Those were great at-bats," Gagne said. "I just wanted to pitch my game and not worry about who's hitting."
He finally closed the book when Juan Pierre popped a first-pitch fastball to J.J. Hardy. Gagne said that even though it was a routine play, his recent luck made him nervous.
"I didn't breathe for awhile," Gagne said. "The way it's been going, you never know. Maybe a bird was going to fly out or something."
Gagne didn't worry when Martin reached or when he gave up to walk to Jones. Instead, he tried to take a pitch-by-pitch focus and ignore the "here we go again" feeling that he said had plagued him in recent starts.
"I tried to get it off my mind," "If I do that, I'll get out of the inning. It's a pretty simple game but we make it a lot more complicated; sometimes it's good, sometimes it's not good."
Yost said that Gagne made a "simple adjustment," but didn't elaborate on what that adjustment was.
"If I tell you what it is, opposing teams could pick up on it," Yost said. "It was a simple adjustment and he made it. It's really basic."
Yost went to a "closer by committee approach" after learning about Gagne's comment Sunday morning. Brian Shouse, Salomon Torres, Guillermo Mota and Mitch Stetter combined to work the ninth inning in the last two games.
The manger felt comfortable with the options at his disposal, but preferred to return to a bullpen with established roles. Gagne's role, Yost felt, was best suited for the ninth inning.
Prior to Monday night's game, Gagne said he was ready to reassume the closer's job, but Yost instead used him to pitch the seventh and eighth innings of the Brewers' 5-3 victory over the Cardinals.
Following a leadoff walk, Gagne needed just nine pitches to retire the Cardinals. He struggled in his second inning, allowing a run on a walk and three hits while throwing 28 pitches.
"I felt that was really good for him yesterday," Yost said. "He got out of there with a really positive feeling."
Mechanics aside, both Yost and Gagne said that much of the problem was solved just by taking a step back to regroup mentally. Gagne now has converted 10 of 15 save opportunities and while he leads the majors with five blown saves, he's also one save shy of the National League lead.
"He just needed a day to get away from closing and that day was yesterday," Yost said. "He felt good about the adjustment and he felt good about his pitching.
"He's a closer. Not much bothers him."
GAME NOTES: The Brewers moved a game over .500 and within three games of the division-leading Cardinals. ... LF Ryan Braun went 2 for 4 with a pair of RBI. He's hitting .550 on the homestand. ... RHP Carlos Villanueva won for the second time this season and the first since picking up the victory on Opening Day. ... Brewers starters have pitched for consecutive "quality starts." ... RHP Yovani Gallardo underwent surgery Tuesday to repair his torn ACL. The Brewers said it was a success.