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Melvin gives Gagne vote of confidence despite blown saves

Milwaukee Brewers' closer Eric Gagne will stay in that role for now.

Brewers' General manager Doug Melvin says there are no plans to remove the 32-year-old veteran even though he leads the Majors with five blown saves.

Gagne walked three, including the tying run, in the ninth inning of Sunday's 12-inning Brewer loss at Houston. He does have nine saves, which is among the tops in the big leagues.

However, Gagne's ERA is 6.14, he has a high walks and hits-per-inning ratio of 1.7 and opponents are batting .382 against him.

Melvin says it's not like Gagne to walk so many batters. He says the blown saves won't be enough to remove him unless he gets a string of them.

Melvin says closers have slumps, like everybody else.

"You give him the benefit of the doubt for now," said Melvin.

Gagne missed most of the 2005-06 seasons with back and elbow injuries. The Brewers signed him to a one-year, $10 million deal just days before he was named in the Mitchell Report for buying human growth hormone in 2004.

Some in baseball have wondered if Gagne can pitch without taking steroids. but he did pretty well without them in Texas at the start of last year when he had 16 saves and a 2.16 ERA.

The fish are next

The Brewers will open a three-game series at Miami tonight (Tuesday) against the Florida Marlins.

Milwaukee had the day off Monday, but still lost ground in the National League Central.

The Brewers are now four games behind front-running St. Louis after the Cardinals edged Colorado 6-5.

The Chicago Cubs are second, 2.5 games off the pace after losing at Cincinnati.

Milwaukee has lost three straight and seven of its last 10 and they're only one game behind .500 at 16-15.

Florida is 17-14 and they're in second in the National League East, a game in back of Philadelphia.

The Marlins took two of three from San Diego during the weekend, but they've still lost four of their last-six.

Florida took two-of-three from the Brewers at Miller Park two weeks ago and both their victories came in 10 innings.

Right-hander Jeff Suppan will start for the Brew Crew tonight, against Marlins' left-hander Scott Olsen.