HR: Braun (35), Ramirez 2 (20), Hart (24), Gomez (14)
It may not look it, but this was actually a close game, with Brewer closer John Axford warming up in the final inning for another edition of Blown Save Theater. But before Brewer fans had a chance to get comfortable in their seats with their popcorn and anti-anxiety medication, the offense erupted for nine runs in the ninth (seven of which before even logging an out), turning a nailbiter into a rout.
The scoring started right away in the first inning when liberated Cub Aramis Ramirez doubled in Ryan Braun, staking the Crew to a 1-0 lead. The Cubs scored three unearned runs in the third to take a 3-1 lead, but Braun and A-Ram struck again in the fifth: Braun doubled in Rickie Weeks, and Ramirez hit his second home run in as many days, giving the Brewers a 4-3 lead. An Aoki single knocked in Gomez in the sixth made in 5-3, but a Brett Jackson homer off of Kameron Loe in the bottom of the inning made it 5-4. A one-out home run by Carlos Gomez in the 8th gave the visitors a 6-4 lead, making it a save situation for John Axford.
Or so we thought. The top of the ninth inning was one for the ages. Braun, Ramirez and Hart went back-to-back-to back on three consecutive pitches, with Braun's NL-leading 35th homer landing on Waveland Avenue. A Jean Segura single and Cub error plated two more, and a Braun single two outs later scored Segura. Jeff Bianchi singled in Braun to push the score to 15-4. Livan Hernandez retired the Cubs in order in the 9th to close out the win.
Lost among the crazy ninth inning was a not-horrible start by Marco Estrada, who picked up his second straight win and second win on the season. Estrada gave up six hits and three walks in only five innings, but he also racked up eight strikeouts. Four relievers combined for four innings of relief giving up only one run. Milwaukee pitchers, who entered the game with a major-league-leading 1089 strikeouts, picked up another 15 tonight.
Braun and Gomez each finished with four hits, and the Brewers' 21 hits mark a season-high. Braun finished with five RBIs, tying for the NL lead. Jeff Bianchi collected his fourth consecutive hit and first RBI in the ninth. It was the Brewers 10th win in 13 games against the Cubs this year.
With the win, the Brewers are now 60-67. They need to go 21-14 over the remaining 35 games to finish at .500, and 30-1 to finish at 90 wins. Don't stop believin'.