Three two-run home runs, two of which came in a six-run fifth inning, propelled the Brewers to a 1-0 lead in the NLCS. Ryan Braun’s 463-foot blast over the Harley Davidson Deck in left-center opened it up, and homers by Prince Fielder and Yuniesky Betancourt ensued in the fifth to give the Brewers a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
“With the shadows it can get hard (to hit), but I’m just fortunate it went over the fence,” said a modest Ryan Braun on his first inning moon shot off Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia (0-2).
However, it wasn’t all fun and games for Milwaukee, who is 4-0 at home so far in the Playoffs.
A three-run home run by David Freese in the fourth gave the Cardinals a 4-2 lead against Brewers starter Zack Greinke. St. Louis added to their lead with a two-out RBI single off the bat of Lance Berkman in the fifth.
Milwaukee responded, down 5-2 in the fifth. The rally began humbly with a meager base hit through the left side by Corey Hart. Following a Jerry Hairston double to left, Braun sent a Garcia breaking ball down the line in right that barely stayed fair for a ground-rule double. 5-4. Fielder carried the momentum by launching Garcia’s first delivery into the visitor’s bullpen on a rope to give the Brewers the lead 6-5. Octavio Dotel then relieved Garcia and botched a Rickie Weeks grounder, disposing the ball into right field for a two-base error. The usual free-swinging Betancourt then put together an eight-pitch at bat before homering to the Milwaukee bullpen to make it 8-5.
Braun finished with 4 RBI with a homer, double, and two runs scored as the Brewers followed suit of the 1982 Milwaukee team to take the opening game in a Playoff series with St. Louis (the two teams met in the World Series that year).
The team that won Game 1 of the NLCS has advanced to the World Series in 16 of the past 19 years.
Milwaukee is now 17-0 at home in games Greinke (1-0) has started. Greinke, who criticized the demeanor of Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter, went six plus innings, allowing all six of St. Louis’ runs, striking out six.
Takashi Saito relieved Greinke after a leadoff single from leadoff man Rafael Furcal in the seventh and immediately made Brewers fans nervous.
With Furcal running on the pitch, the Cardinals avoided a double play and wound up with a Jon Jay single to put runners on the corners with no outs and the heart of the order coming up. Saito avoiding the jam, breaking Albert Pujols’ bat for a 5-4-3 double play with Furcal coming home. A Lance Berkman pop out ended the inning and Milwaukee escaped up 8-6. A Jonathan Lucroy RBI single would get the run back immediately for the Brewers.
Francisco Rodriguez and John Axford held the lead in the eighth and ninth with no trouble as Axford picked up his second postseason save.