WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 21: Jonathan Lucroy #20 of the Milwaukee Brewers hits a solo home run in the second inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on September 21, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
MVP: Ryan Braun (+.335 WPA)
LVP: Travis Ishikawa (-.115)
The Brewers have done a great job over the last month or so of making it look really easy to dig out of a deep hole in the standings. Tonight they reminded us that it's really hard....but they just might be able to do it.
They entered tonight as winners of five straight but hadn't gained significant ground in the race for the final Wild Card spot as the Cardinals had also been hot. Today the Cardinals finally lost (to the Cubs in eleven innings), but to gain ground the Brewers would have to win a game against the NL's best team.
Milwaukee trailed after eight innings tonight despite a strong outing from Shaun Marcum, who pitched six innings for the first time since coming off the DL and allowed just two runs on four hits, walking none and striking out three. Both runs scored on an Adam LaRoche homer in the first inning. Jonathan Lucroy responded with a solo home run in the top of the second, but for eight innings that was all the offense could muster.
The Brewers missed a golden opportunity in the fourth inning when Ryan Braun doubled, Aramis Ramirez singled and Jonathan Lucroy singled but no runs scored. Braun was thrown out at home on Ramirez's single and Lucroy was out on Travis Ishikawa's inning-ending double play. They didn't get another chance until the ninth, when Norichika Aoki and Ryan Braun singled and Aramis Ramirez doubled to give the Brewers the lead for the first time.
The double, on top of plating the go-ahead run, also was Ramirez's 47th of the season and gave him sole possession of third place on the Brewers' single season all-time list. Ryan Braun's single to drive home Norichika Aoki was his third hit of the game. Aoki's bunt single in the ninth extended his hitting streak to eleven games.
Tonight's win moved the Brewers back within a game and a half of the NL's final Wild Card spot.