The Milwaukee Brewers were down to their last strike in the 9th inning on Sunday afternoon before Ryan Braun drove a 3-2 pitch into the left-center field stands for a 7-4 lead and eventual 7-6 victory.
Braun’s blast allowed the Brewers to stay within one-game of the Chicago Cubs for the second National League wild card spot. They’re 2 1/2 games behind Washington for the top wild card position and just three games behind the Cardinals for the Central Division lead.
The Cubs, who swept the Pirates over the weekend, are just two games behind the Cardinals with the two teams playing each other seven times in the final two weeks of the season.
St. Louis reliever John Gant walked the bases loaded with one out in the top of the ninth and the Cardinals leading 4-3. Reliever Tyler Webb came on to get Mike Moustakas with a shallow fly ball to center field.
That brought on another pitching change as rookie Junior Fernandez came on to face Braun, who sent a hanging 3-2 slider over the wall for the go-ahead blast.
Braun has struggled in the month of September, dealing with back issues. But he’s given the Brewers a pair of victories with home runs on the road trip. Sunday’s blast was his 20th of the season and the teams record 232nd of the year.
Corey Spangenberg also went yard for the Brewers, his second of the season.
Brewer pitchers held the Cardinals to just five hits, but three of them were home runs from Harrison Bader, Paul DeJong and Tommy Edman. Edman’s blast was a 2-run shot off of Josh Hader in the ninth. Bader’s blast came in the third, off of Brewers starter Chase Anderson. It would be the only run allowed by Anderson in his four innings of work.
The Brewers open their final home stand of the season tonight with the first of four games against the San Diego Padres. Garrett Richards pitches he series opener for the Padres. Zach Davies gets the start for the Brewers.