Fri. Final: Brewers 5, Cubs 1
Ryan Braun, Mike Cameron, Corey Hart. | Photo: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Next game: Saturday, September 27th vs. the Chicago Cubs
Brewers Gameday with the Jockey Pregame Show at 2:20 p.m., followed by Brewers Extra Inning after the game on 620WTMJ.
Ten days ago the playoffs seemed out of reach for the Brewers. Now, the Brewers are just one more win and a Mets' loss away from living the playoff dream. The Brewers beat the Chicago Cubs 5-1 at Miller Park while the Florida Marlins beat the New York Mets 6-1 at Shea Stadium. Take it in Milwaukee, the Brewers now have a game lead in the wild card race with two games to go.
"It's a good feeling when you have the destiny in your hands," Brewers interim manager Dale Sveum felt. "We don't have to chase anybody. It's in our hands now. We just got to take care of business."
Most fans were expecting Jeff Suppan to start a small fire out on the mound with the way he has been lit up in September. You can forgive the Milwaukee faithful for being a little scared with Suppan on the mound in such a critical game. The guy did give up 20 runs in only 16 and two-thirds innings heading into this contest. Remember, Suppan made his money by bringing his best stuff in big games.
"I've learned a long time ago, it doesn't matter when its early or late, you are always trying to keep the team in the game," Suppan said. "It's been a battle for me. It's always nice to contribute to a win."
Suppan allowed eight hits through five innings but he gave up just one run on a home run by Jim Edmonds in the second. Other than that blip, Suppan came up with the pitches to get himself out of any trouble he came across.
He found trouble right from the start as he put two on in the first with one out. Instead of having that explode into say five runs like has last start, Suppan got two fly ball outs to end the threat.
The third inning could have been painful as Mike Fontenot led off inning with a single and the big bats of Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez right behind him. Suppan calmly escaped that potential problem as he struck out Lee, Ramirez, and Micah Hoffpauir to end the inning.
"He was getting out of the jams and making the pitches when he had do," Sveum said. "He had some big strikeouts on some big time hitters who have done well against him in the past. He did what we expected of him."
Suppan's final inning saw some drama as the Cubs had a chance to break a 1-1 tie. Hoffpauir lined a two-out single to right with Fontenot on second. Corey Hart's textbook throw to home forced Fontenot to hold up at third and allowed Jason Kendall to gun down Hoffpauir as he was digging for second.
"There is always a turning point in the game and that was it for us," Sveum said.
Kendall tied the game at a run in the bottom of the second with a RBI double. The Brewers pulled ahead in the sixth on Hart's two-out, bloop single. Rickie Weeks gave the Brewers some breathing room with a three-run blast to left in the seventh off Chad Gaudin.
"Guys go up their whole career trying to be ready for this kind of situation and try to produce," Weeks said about homering in his only at bat of the game. "That is what I try to do. Try to go up there and get the job done."
Moments after Weeks's shot, the Miller Park faithful found out about the Mets loss that kept the crowd in a frenzy.
"It was one of the better feelings we all had in the game," Sveum said. "When you know all you have to do is hold the lead and you are going to be one game up for the wild card that is huge. People say 'I don't watch' but you can bet every body's looking at that scoreboard every chance they get."
Seth McClung (6-6) stuck the Cubs' potent lineup in neutral through the last four innings to pick up the win. McClung allowed just one hit as he retired 11 of 13 batters and struck out six.
"I've always wanted to be pitching in the big game and important situations," McClung said. "We just turned it out around and we've got bigger things we are trying to get to."
Sean Marshall took the loss for giving up Hart's go ahead RBI single. The Brewers magic number to clinch the wild card is now at two. Ben Sheets will start game two despite an ailing right elbow. The Cubs will start left hander Ted Lilly (16-9, 4.17 ERA).
Ray Durham left the game in the top of the seventh with a "tweaked" hamstring according to Sveum...Prince Fielder extended his hitting to 16 games with a double in the seventh...The Brewers bullpen has a 1.13 ERA over the last six games, including 10 scoreless innings...Milwaukee now has a five game winning streak.