By Curt Hogg
Once again the Mets tied the game late but the Brewers put up four runs on the New York bullpen to win.
A Lucas Duda two-run home run off Yovani Gallardo tied the game up for the Mets in the seventh inning before Milwaukee rallied with two runs in both the eighth and ninth to crack the game open.
Manny Acosta (1-1) walked Nyjer Morgan and gave up a single to Ryan Braun before giving way to lefty Tim Byrdak. He got Fielder to hit a grounder sharply to second baseman Justin Turner, who threw the ball away attempting to turn a double play. Jerry Hairston lined a ball past a diving David Wright to score Braun and give the Brewers a 4-2 lead.
In the ninth, a Nyjer Morgan suicide squeeze plated Craig Counsell, who singled as a pinch hitter on his 41st birthday. Braun then doubled in Corey Hart to give the Brewers a 6-2 lead that LaTroy Hawkins would not relinquish.
Gallardo (14-8) picked up the win despite exiting the game while tied. The only blemish was the two-run blast by Duda. He struck out six and walked only one to get within one win of the National League lead of 15 shared by three.
Milwaukee (76-52) moves to 9 games ahead in first place while St. Louis will face the Cubs on Sunday Night Baseball later on. The 9 game lead is the largest first-place margin in franchise history. Since the All Star break Milwaukee has the second-best road record, improving to 29-36 away from Miller Park.
Casey McGehee led off the scoring with a two-out solo home run off Mets starter R.A. Dickey in the fourth.
Dickey lasted seven innings and gave up two runs, leaving the game on the hook for the loss before Duda took him off.
Braun went 3-5 with a double, two runs scored, and his 81st RBI of the season. He also stole two bases; his swipe of second in the sixth led to run after Fielder’s single scored him, and stole third before Hairston’s RBI single in the eighth.
Fielder improved his league-leading RBI total to 98 with his two on Sunday. He leads Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard by two in that category.
By Curt Hogg
It just seemed that the Brewers were going to blow a 7-1 lead in the 7th to the New York Mets.
In fact, they did just that, with former Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez helping to blow the six run lead before Prince Fielder and Casey McGehee’s RBI hits gave the Brewers the lead back in the ninth.
Milwaukee dealt the first blows of the game. Ryan Braun, Fielder, and Yuniesky Betancourt all homered to give the team each of their seven early runs. While the team’s late game heroics proved crucial to victory, Ron Roenicke brought a different look to the game.
“We talk about solo home runs, they can win games late. But three-run home runs that are huge win games early,” said the Brewers skipper.
With the win and a St. Louis loss, the Brewers extended their NL Central lead to 8 1/2 games, matching the largest lead in franchise history.
The Mets plated five runs in the sixth off of Brewers starter Randy Wolf and reliever Takashi Saito before K-Rod lost the lead. Josh Thole’s two-out double tied the game up before Angel Pagan hit an upper-deck home run to give New York the lead.
With New York up 9-7 in the ninth, Jason Isringhausen came in and couldn’t find the zone. Pinch hitters Jonathan Lucroy and Nyjer Morgan walked to lead off the inning before Corey Hart singled to load the bases. Just as he battled back to a full count against Mark Kotsay, he walked him to make it a 9-8 game.
Manny Acosta came in and promptly retired Ryan Braun. He had Fielder on the ropes before the slugger singled past the glove of second baseman Justin Turner to score Morgan and tie the game at 9. McGehee followed with a first-pitch single to put the Brewers up 11-9.
John Axford seized the momentum and retired the side in order in the ninth to earn his 34th consecutive save and 37th overall.
For Wolf, not picking up the win did not ruin the enjoyment in the clubhouse.
“To me it was more gratifying to come back and win,” Wolf said. “It’s one thing to have a (six)-run lead and blow it, another to come back.”
He ended up going 6 1/3 innings while allowing five runs on eight hits with three strikeouts.
Rodriguez (5-2) picked up the win despite blowing the lead.
By Curt Hogg
Probables: Friday: Shaun Marcum (10-5, 3.50) vs. Mike Pelfrey (6-9, 4.53); Saturday: Randy Wolf (10-8, 3.30) vs. Chris Capuano (9-11, 4.58); Sunday: Yovani Gallardo (13-8, 3.55) vs. R.A. Dickey (5-11, 3.77 era)
-Mets SS Jose Reyes will miss the series while on the DL with a hamstring injury.
-Brewers 2B Rickie Weeks took light batting practice Thursday, but he won’t be back for at least 10 days.
The Brewers managed to take 3 of 4 games against the Dodgers with poor timely hitting. The only instances with RISP when a player came through were Mark Kotsay on Tuesday to win the game and Jerry Hairston on Wednesday to give Milwaukee the lead.
At Citi Field where few home runs are hit, the Brewers will need timely hitting and good base running to win the series. This doesn’t require too much analysis, obviously.
No Gopher Balls
When Zack Greinke gave up a solo homer to Tony Gwynn in the seventh inning on Wednesday, it was the first home run given up by a Brewers pitchers since August 11. The Mets as a team don’t hit many home runs. David Wright leads the team with 10 long balls. If Milwaukee pitchers suddenly start surrendering gopher balls to the Mets hitters, they will be in trouble. Greg Maddux always said he wanted to make offenses get three singles and never just one swing to score. This should be the team’s motto entering spacious Citi Field.
Fielder clearly struggled against Dodgers pitching. From Ted Lilly to Clayton Kershaw, it seemed that all Los Angeles pitchers had him off-balance.
We all know what a hot Prince Fielder does to this Brewers team. Get him to heat up in the Big Apple.