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Slam by Braun keeps Brewers in playoff hunt

Sep 26, 2008 - 4:49 AM By David Cotey PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

MILWAUKEE (Ticker) -- Ryan Braun and the Milwaukee Brewers picked the perfect time for their first slam of the season.

Braun hit a grand slam with two outs in the 10th inning as Milwaukee defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates, 5-1, on Thursday to complete a crucial three-game sweep.

The win kept the Brewers tied for the National League wild card with the New York Mets, who defeated the Chicago Cubs, 7-6, on their final at-bat earlier Thursday.

"We knew it was all that much more important to win our game," Braun said. "You don't want to be a game down with three games to go. It was obviously huge for us to find a way to win tonight."

Rickie Weeks led off the bottom of the 10th with a single to right field off rookie reliever Jesse Chavez (0-1) and advanced to second on Jason Kendall's sacrifice bunt. Pinch-hitter Ray Durham was intentionally walked before Mike Cameron struck out for the second out.

Another pinch hitter, Craig Counsell, drew a walk to load the bases, bringing Braun to the plate. It was Braun's first career game-winning home run and first grand slam. The Brewers had hit 195 home runs without a slam this season before Braun belted the 2-2 pitch out to left.

"I couldn't have picked a better situation or a bigger situation," Braun said. "Every day is pretty much a must-win, especially with the Mets having won their game. And there's no better feeling in the world than a walk-off grand slam, especially in a crucial situation. It meant a lot to me, it meant a lot to the team and it meant a lot to the pennant race."

The home run doubled Braun's offensive production for the month. The young left fielder was hitting .207 (18-for-87) with one home run and five RBI during the month before Thursday.

"Sometimes that's what it takes for a young man with that much ability with the bat to really get going again," Brewers interim manager Dale Sveum said. "He got a big monkey off his back, no doubt about it. That's a young man hitting in the third spot in a playoff race. To come through like that in that kind of fashion with our backs against the wall knowing the Mets had already won, that's huge."

Early on, the Brewers got an unexpected boost from starter Yovani Gallardo.

Gallardo, expected to occupy the second slot in the rotation behind Ben Sheets when the season started, tore his right anterior cruciate ligament while covering first base against the Chicago Cubs on May 1. He was placed on the disabled list the next day and had reconstructive surgery on May 13.

But the 22-year-old righthander was surprisingly sharp in his long-awaited return. Gallardo allowed one run - a solo home run to Steve Pearce - and three hits and two walks with seven strikeouts over four innings. Of the 67 pitches he threw, 40 were strikes.

"I just wanted to have a start before the season was over," Gallardo said. "I was a little nervous, especially that first inning, but it's just one of those things you have to get over. I felt like I made some good pitches. My arm was feeling good."

The Brewers' bullpen picked up where Gallardo left off. Seven relievers, including Mitch Stetter (3-1), who retired the only batter he faced in the 10th for the win, allowed six hits and a walk over six scoreless innings.

"You can't say enough about our bullpen," Sveum said. "They have been phenomenal for a week or so now. They've been lights out. That's what solid pitching and a bullpen will do for you. If you stick around long enough, you'll score a run."

Milwaukee struck first when Bill Hall's two-out double off Pirates starter Zach Duke scored Cameron in the bottom of the third.

Pearce's home run tied the score in the top of the fourth for the Pittsburgh, which lost for the 12th straight time against the Brewers and ended up 1-14 against Milwaukee this season, including 0-9 at Miller Park.

Duke allowed one run and seven hits over seven innings for the Pirates, who have lost four straight and eight of 10 overall.

"I was very pleased with the way we went about it tonight," Pirates manager John Russell said. "I thought he (Duke) threw the ball really well. I was really trying to get him a win tonight."








  • NL
    FINAL 10
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
    - - - - - - - - -
    PITTSBURGH 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0
    MILWAUKEE 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
    10 R H E
    -- - - -
    PITTSBURGH 0 1 8 2
    MILWAUKEE 4 5 9 0 (FINAL 10)

    BATTERIES: PIT

    Sep 25 11:14 PM


  • NL
    AT MILWAUKEE - SCORING UPDATE
    GRAND SLAM BY RYAN BRAUN (36) TO LEFT WITH 2 OUT IN THE
    10TH OFF JESSE CHAVEZ SCORED RICKIE WEEKS, RAY DURHAM AND CRAIG
    COUNSELL.
    FINAL SCORE: MILWAUKEE 5, PITTSBURGH 1

    Pirates 1, Brewers 5  Bot 10, 0 OutsSep 25 11:14 PM
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    Pirates 1, Brewers 1  Bot 5, 0 OutsSep 25 9:26 PM


  • NL
    AT MILWAUKEE - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY STEVEN PEARCE (3) TO LEFT WITH 1 OUT IN
    THE 4TH OFF YOVANI GALLARDO.
    CURRENT SCORE: PITTSBURGH 1, MILWAUKEE 1
    DUE UP FOR PITTSBURGH: AN LAROCHE (.167, 0-FOR-1)

    Pirates 1, Brewers 1  Top 4, 0 OutsSep 25 9:04 PM


  • NL
    AT MILWAUKEE - SCORING UPDATE
    DOUBLE BY BILL HALL SCORED MIKE CAMERON.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, B HALL ON SECOND, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: PITTSBURGH 0
    MILWAUKEE 1 BOTTOM, 3RD
    DUE UP FOR MILWAUKEE: R BRAUN (.286, 0-FOR-1)

    Pirates 0, Brewers 1  Bot 3, 0 OutsSep 25 8:57 PM
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