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Ryan Braun's 8th Inning HR Sends the Brewers to the Brink of Clinching the NL Central With a 4-1 Win

WP: Francisco Rodriguez (6-2)
LP: Clay Hensley (6-7)
SV: John Axford (44)

HR:  Prince Fielder (35), Ryan Braun (32)

MVP: Yovani Gallardo (+.271 pitching), Ryan Braun (+.212 hitting)
LVP: Casey McGehee (-.127)

Box Score
Win Expectancy Graph

It was a night to remember.

The Brewers got on the board in the second inning, thanks to Prince Fielder's 35th home run of the season.  The Marlins would get that run back in the fourth inning with a Gaby Sanchez double and Bryan Petersen RBI single.  Beyond those, runs were scarce for most of the game.  The Brewers left a runner in scoring position in the third, fifth, and sixth innings.  The Marlins also left a runner in scoring position in the first, second, and third innings.

Yovani Gallardo was on tonight.  He recorded his 200th strikeout of the season in the 4th inning with a strikeout of John Buck, for his third straight 200 strikeout season.  It was also his third straight game with 10+ strikeouts.  In total, Gallardo went 7.1 IP and had 1 run, 7 hits, no walks, and 11 strikeouts.  On the other side, Chris Volstad matched him pitch for pitch.  He went 7 innings and allowed 1 run on 6 hits with 1 walk and 5 strikeouts.

Things really started to pick up in the eighth inning.  In the Marlins half of the inning, Emilio Bonifacio got on base with a one out single, and then Omar Infante got on base from an error on a throw from Casey McGehee to Rickie Weeks.  That would end Gallardo's night, and bring in Francisco Rodriguez.  He struck out the third and fourth hitters in Mike Stanton and Logan Morrison to end the inning.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, Corey Hart got on base with a one out double off of reliever Clay Hensley.  Nyjer Morgan would follow that up with a walk to put two on base with one out.  Ryan Braun came up to the plate next, and he had one of those moments that you may remember for the rest of your life.  He hit a no-doubt home run off the scoreboard in center field to give the Brewers a 4-1 lead.

John Axford came in for a save in the ninth inning, and got it with a 1-2-3 inning.

As of this writing, the Cubs lead the Cardinals 4-1 in the 8th inning.  If the Cubs win, the Brewers clinch the NL Central.  Stay tuned to Brew Crew Ball for updates tonight.