Brewers bash, bunt their way to 2-0 NLDS lead
Sunday, October 2, 2011
MILWAUKEE (AP) — Jonathan Lucroy drove in the go-ahead run with a squeeze and the Milwaukee Brewers showed they could bunt as well as bash, breaking away from the Arizona Diamondbacks 9-4 Sunday to take a 2-0 lead in their NL division series.
Ryan Braun hit a two-run homer and fellow slugger Prince Fielder added an RBI single for Milwaukee. But the brawny Brewers also excel at the little things, especially Lucroy.
Lucroy’s safety squeeze keyed a five-run sixth inning, and came right after Diamondbacks reliever Brad Ziegler became angry about a balk call. That’s when rookie Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke put on a play — he’d already seen Lucroy successfully bunt a few times this season.
With the score 4-all and runners at the corners with one out, Jerry Hairston Jr. took a couple of half-steps and sprinted home as Lucroy bunted toward first base. Ziegler’s awkward flip went wide of catcher Miguel Montero and the Diamondbacks imploded from there, with Milwaukee taking a 9-4 lead.
Brewers starter Zack Greinke struggled in his first postseason appearance, giving up three home runs and leaving without a decision. He was 11-0 at Miller Park, helping the Brewers win a majors-best 57 games at home.
The Brewers now hold a 2-0 lead in a postseason series for the first time in franchise history. Game 3 is Tuesday at Arizona, and Milwaukee will go for a sweep when Shaun Marcum takes on rookie Josh Collmenter.
The Diamondbacks seemed poised for a come-from-behind victory after notching 48 this season when Paul Goldschmidt, Chris Young and Justin Upton all homered off Greinke to tie the game.
Instead, Arizona went 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position and Milwaukee kept its cool until the sixth, when seven consecutive batters reached with one out.
Hairston, making his second straight start in place of Casey McGehee at third, doubled to chase Diamondbacks starter Daniel Hudson.
Ziegler entered and was called for a balk when he spun and found no one behind Hairston for a pickoff attempt. Ziegler pointed down at his foot, upset at second base umpire Bruce Dreckman’s call, and walked the free-swinging Yuniesky Betancourt on four pitches.
Roenicke called for the squeeze, and Lucroy executed it just like he had on the final play of a 3-2 win against the Giants on May 28.
Both Lucroy and Betancourt advanced on Ziegler’s wild throw and Mark Kotsay was intentionally walked to load the bases, and the momentum had swung by that point.
Corey Hart singled in a run, pumping his right fist down the line, and Nyjer Morgan brought in two more with a single that had him raising his arms in celebration before the play was even over. Braun’s RBI single chased Ziegler and gave Milwaukee a 9-4 lead.
Greinke made his second consecutive start on three days’ rest and Braun gave him a 2-0 lead in the first inning with a 438-foot homer, his first ever in the postseason. The Brewers took a 4-1 lead on Fielder’s run-scoring single and Rickie Weeks’ RBI triple in the third.
But Arizona chipped away.
Goldschmidt, the rookie who’d played most of the season at Double-A Mobile and was starting in place of Lyle Overbay, homered in the second and Young added a solo shot in the fourth.
Upton tied it in the fifth when he hit a towering drive to the left-field bleachers that had Upton’s mom, Yvonne, smiling amid the crowd of 44,066.
Milwaukee’s bullpen of Takashi Saito, LaTroy Hawkins, Francisco Rodriguez and John Axford held tight again after posting a 1.14 ERA over 71 innings in September and all made it interesting.
With Greinke gone in the sixth, Saito worked around a man on third by striking out Gerardo Parra to keep it tied. Hawkins walked consecutive batters before getting out of the seventh. Rodriguez, the former Mets closer, walked Goldschmidt and allowed a broken-bat hit to Young to start the eighth, but neither came in to score.
Axford walked Aaron Hill and Montero, but struck out Goldschmidt to end it.
Hill went 3-for-3 with two walks. He had an apparent double taken away in the first inning by a missed call when left field umpire James Hoye called a ball off the wall foul after it flashed between sunshine and shadows in Miller Park. Replays showed it was fair, and Hill singled on the next pitch and was stranded there.
Notes: Robin Yount, the 1982 and 1989 AL MVP for Milwaukee, threw out the first pitch. ... McGehee had been 5 for 5 against Hudson in his career, but finished the season in an overall 3-for-45 slump. ... Collmenter (10-10, 3.38) matched the franchise record for wins by a rookie and joined Brandon Webb (2003) and Micah Owings (2007) as the only rookies in franchise history to reach 100 strikeouts. ... Marcum went 8-3 with a 2.21 ERA in 16 road starts. Marcum hasn’t pitched on the road since Sept. 20, when he allowed one run in eight innings in a victory over the Cubs.
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