video thumbnail

MIL@PHI: Braun hits a two-run triple to center

PHILADELPHIA -- Thanks to another late rally, the surprising Brewers are a win away from a perfect opening road trip.

Ryan Howard's error allowed the go-ahead run to score before Ryan Braun's two-run triple completed a three-run Brewers rally in the eighth inning, and Mark Reynolds added a two-run homer in the ninth to finish a 9-4 win over the Phillies on Wednesday night at Citizens Bank Park.

After sweeping the Red Sox in three games at Fenway Park over the weekend, the 6-2 Brewers will have a chance to sweep the Phillies' home-opening series on Thursday night. To do so, the Brewers will have to get through left-hander Cliff Lee.

"We've got guys doing things that have other teams looking at us like, 'What is going on?'" said Milwaukee's Logan Schafer, who hit the bouncer that produced Howard's decisive error. "That's really fun. We're not surprised by what's going on. We know how good we are. We're just going to keep playing with that confidence.

"We're so confident in ourselves and our abilities and what we have in this clubhouse that whatever other people are saying around the baseball world doesn't really affect us."

The baseball world is taking note of a Brewers offense that has a hit in 21 consecutive innings, and has scored 36 runs on 67 hits in its first five road games.

At 5-0, the Brewers are off to their best start on the road since the 1987 team won its first seven games away from County Stadium on the way to a 13-0 start overall.

"When you win on the road -- and not just winning, but against the teams we're playing -- then it really becomes important," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said.

Wednesday's final score did not reflect the team's back-and-forth night. They had been tied at 4 since the fifth inning when the Brewers struck in the eighth against Phillies reliever Antonio Bastardo, with Reynolds working a leadoff walk, stealing second base and advancing to third on Scooter Gennett's sacrifice bunt to set up Schafer for the go-ahead grounder.

Schafer, who had entered the game the previous half-inning, hit a bouncer past Howard that was ruled an error -- infuriating usually mild-mannered Roenicke, who called it "ridiculous," and said, "Something needs to be done about it. Somebody needs to say something."

Hit or error, the result was a 5-4 Brewers lead.

"I thought it [was a hit], too, but it doesn't matter either way," Schafer said. "It only changes my numbers and, I guess, Bastardo's, but we won the game, and that's what's important. I'm just happy I put it in play."

The Brewers added on. Carlos Gomez flew out and Jean Segura was hit by a pitch for the second straight night before Braun, coming off his three-homer, seven-RBIs performance on Tuesday, drove a triple to left-center field for two more runs.

Gomez finished 3-for-5 including his third homer, a solo shot in the fourth. Reynolds' homer in the ninth was his second this season. Aramis Ramirez had three more hits, including an RBI single in the first inning that boosted him to 7-for-9 with runners in scoring position this season.

"Gomez seems to really set the tone at the top of the order with the way he comes out swinging and it seems like they all follow," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "Anything in the zone, they're swinging at it, and they're all hot right now together as a group."

"We're just getting hit after hit, and it's fun," Reynolds said. "Every time I come up, I've got guys on base."

The late flurry of runs made a winner of Brewers reliever Tyler Thornburg, who pitched two scoreless innings. He matched Opening Day starter Yovani Gallardo's 2-0 record.

Brewers starter Matt Garza took a no-decision after a night of damage control. He pitched six innings, allowing four runs (three earned) on eight hits. Garza struck out four, but walked two and saw one of those runners score. He also committed a run-scoring balk.

"I just couldn't really find a groove, and just fought myself for six [innings]," Garza said. "I'm just happy to keep the guys in there. Any time you win, there's satisfaction. It doesn't matter how you throw, as long as we pull out the 'W.'"

Three of the Phillies' runs scored during a strange bottom of the first that included Roenicke's first challenge, a run-scoring balk and a run-scoring Brewers error.

First, the replay. With a runner at first, Garza fielded a Jimmy Rollins comebacker and threw somewhat wildly to Segura covering second base. Segura took a step off the bag to catch the baseball, then stepped back and tagged Ben Revere, but the call was safe. Roenicke challenged, and the call was overturned.

The Phillies nonetheless rallied. After Carlos Ruiz doubled, pushing Rollins to third, Garza flinched ever so slightly on the mound and was called for a balk. Two batters later, second baseman Scooter Gennett's wild throw gave the Phillies another run, tying the game at 2. The Phillies then took a 3-2 lead on Domonic Brown's RBI groundout.

"You control it the best you can, and go from there," Garza said.

From there, the Brewers tied the game on back-to-back doubles by Gomez and Segura in the second inning, and Gomez gave the Brewers a 4-3 lead with his solo homer in the fourth. After the Phillies tied the game in the fifth, the Brewers pulled away.

Braun preached cautious optimism.

"You don't to get overly excited about an eight-game stretch," said Braun. "I think we all recognize the cliché that it's a marathon and not a sprint. We'll be excited if we continue to play this good over the next 4-5 months and get into September with an opportunity to play meaningful games."

MLB.com Comments