After Milwaukee’s convincing win behind a strong start from Marco Estrada, an offensive explosion, and Los Angeles’ blowout victory over the Cardinals, you can now just barely count the Brewers first-place lead on two hands.
In his best start with the team, Estrada (4-8) went seven strong innings, allowing only two runs with two strikeouts and no walks. The offense backed him up with a seven-run second inning in Pittsburgh.
After a Jonathan Lucroy RBI single to being the outburst, Estrada’s sac bunt turned into a two-base error on catcher Ryan Doumit as Jerry Hairston scored. Following up a Tony Plush RBI single to give the Brewers a 3-0 lead, Ryan Braun doubled over Andrew McCutchen’s head to score Estrada and Morgan, making it 5-0. With two men out, Casey McGehee capped off the pyrotechnics with a two-run home run to left, his second long ball in three days.
Prince Fielder drove in his 100th run to extend his NL lead in that category with a double in the 6th that scored Ryan Braun.
The Brewers will go ten games up in first place, setting a new franchise record for largest margin in front each time they win and the Cardinals lose. More importantly, their magic number will go down to 23, assuming the Dodgers hold on to an 11-0 lead over St. Louis out west.
Milwaukee improves their record away from the confines of Miller Park to 31-37. They have now won 10 of their last 12 games on the road.
Pittsburgh starter Ross Ohlendorf only struggled for the one inning, but he was desecrated by the “SWAT Team” of the Brewers offense enough in one inning to put the game seemingly out of reach against a sharp Estrada.
His changeup kept hitters off-balance but the command of his high 80’s-low 90’s fastball was what kept the Pirates in check. Batters weren’t swinging and missing at the changeup or slider with two strikes and the defense behind Estrada didn’t allow Pittsburgh to have any breathing room.
On the eve of the Sports Illustrated cover featuring Braun, Morgan, and Fielder, the 2-3-4 hitters for Milwaukee had 7 hits (4 for T. Plush), 5 RBI, 11 total bases, 5 walks, and scored four runs. Braun also stole two bases before being lifted after drawing a walk in the eighth inning for precautionary measures.