video thumbnail

COL@MIL: Braun ends game with a walk-off RBI single

MILWAUKEE -- Ryan Braun paid a painful price for his pair of go-ahead RBIs on Friday night. The first came on a bases-loaded fastball to his backside in the seventh inning. The second came on a two-out single in the bottom of the ninth, which gave the Brewers a 3-2 win over the Rockies at Miller Park and sent teammates barreling toward Braun on the infield.

"I think somebody got me with a helmet, a water bottle, I don't know," Braun said. "I'll have to watch the replay to see who was responsible for that. I got beat up pretty good.

"I'll take them both. Good win for us, obviously. It was nice to finish a game in under four hours."

Three hours and nine minutes qualified as a quick one for these two teams, who have met five times in the past eight days -- all Brewers victories and, before Friday, a series of slugfests.

This game was different, controlled early by starting pitchers Kyle Lohse and Tyler Matzek before the teams began manufacturing runs in the late innings. The Brewers scored first when Jonathan Lucroy bounced a single over a drawn-in infield in the sixth. The Rockies answered on a safety squeeze bunt in the seventh. The Brewers struck back in the bottom of that inning with Braun's bases-loaded hit-by-pitch.

After Rockies second baseman Josh Rutledge tied the game in the top of the ninth inning by hitting a home run off Francisco Rodriguez that scraped the back of the left-field wall, the Brewers had one last rally. A passed ball pushed runners to second and third base with two outs for Braun, who stepped into the batter's box against veteran Rockies right-hander Matt Belisle.

With first base open, Braun wondered whether Belisle might pitch around him and take his chances with the bases loaded and Lucroy at the plate. But Lucroy is the National League's second-leading hitter, and Braun is fighting a prolonged power drought.

"Typically, there's probably a chance they would pitch around me, but I've been swinging so terribly, and Luc's been swinging so great, that the combination would probably entice them to at least come at me a little bit," Braun said. "I saw where [catcher Michael McKenry] was setting up off the plate, so I don't think they were trying to throw it where he ended up throwing it.

"But as a hitter, you always have to be aggressive. I don't think you ever want to get into a defensive mode in that situation and think that they're not going to pitch to you. So you have to be prepared and ready to hit."

Belisle's first pitch was a fastball up and in, which Braun lined to center field for his first walk-off RBI since 2011.

It was also Braun's seventh winning RBI this season, and the 86th of his career.

"It's one of those 'pick your poison' situations," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "I told Matt to give [Braun] a couple pitches and see where we're at. I wasn't going to let him hit in a good hitter's count, and if we got in a bad count, we'd put him on. But it's not a great situation either way."

Braun's hit made a winner of Brewers closer Francisco Rodriguez, who had just experienced his third blown save. Rutledge connected on a full-count changeup and hit it just out of left fielder Khris Davis' leaping grasp to delay Rodriguez's bid to tie a franchise record set in 2007 by Francisco Cordero, who notched 27 saves before the All-Star break.

It also denied Lohse what would have been his team-best 10th victory after the right-hander allowed only one Rockies run on seven hits in seven innings. He's seen five potential wins get away from Brewers relievers, including two of Rodriguez's three blown saves.

"I'm not thinking of my personal numbers," Rodriguez said. "[Lohse] worked his tail off, threw and unbelievable game, and with one pitch, it's pretty much right down the drain. That hurts more than anything else. That's the second time that's happened with him. That's two great games that he should have won."

Said Lohse: "I'll take K-Rod closing out one of my games any time. It's just one of those things that happened tonight."

At 50-32, the Brewers moved 18 games over .500 for the first time this season and six games ahead of second-place St. Louis in the National League Central before the Cardinals cut the lead back to 5 1/2 games with a win on the West Coast.

The Brewers are the first team in the Major Leagues to reach 50 wins.

"It's a cool number," Braun said. "It's definitely a step in the right direction. … We're excited with the way that we've played so far, but there's still a lot of baseball left."

MLB.com Comments