Brewers win 9-7 in 10, sweep scuffling Cardinals
The Cardinals failed to give manager Tony La Russa a happy 65th birthday. They finished 1-6 after clinching the NL Central and open the playoffs at the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday.
Fielder ended with 46 homers, one behind Albert Pujols for the NL lead, and drove in three runs to tie Ryan Howard for the major league RBI title at 141. He lost a chance to take the RBI title outright when he drew an intentional walk to load the bases in the 10th.
The Brewers swept a three-game series, their second of the season in St. Louis, and finished at 80-82 hours after manager Ken Macha learned he'd be back for a second season.
Mid-game replacement David Freese had two hits and three RBIs for St. Louis, including a two-run bloop single off Chris Smith (1-0) to tie it at 6 in the eighth. Freese made his professional debut at catcher in the 10th after the Cardinals pinch-hit for two catchers. Yadier Molina got a day off to rest a sore knee.
Fielder's second homer of the game came in the ninth came off Todd Wellemeyer (7-10). The Cardinals forced extra innings against Trevor Hoffman (3-2) when Julio Lugo beat the relay on a potential game-ending double-play ball with the bases loaded.
Ryan Braun added an RBI single in the 10th for the Brewers and John Axford finished for his first career save.
Pujols won his first NL homer title despite going without a long ball in his last 79 at-bats since Sept. 9. He led the majors in slugging percentage for the third straight season, finished second to Hanley Ramirez with a .327 average, and was third with 135 RBIs.
Joel Pineiro, who'll start Game 3 of the division series Saturday in St. Louis, allowed three earned runs in five innings. He was 1-3 with a 4.75 ERA in his last five starts. Though he allowed 11 homers on the season he gave up four long balls in the last two games.
Jeff Suppan got a ceremonial 30th start for the Brewers, giving up a run on two hits in two innings. He's made 30 starts in 11 straight seasons, tied with Livan Hernandez for the longest streak among active players.
NOTES: Pujols set a major league assists record at first base with 185. ... Jeff Tweedy of alternative rock band Wilco threw out the first pitch. Tweedy grew up in suburban Belleville, Ill. ... Casey McGehee got an infield hit in the first to raise his average to .300, then was taken out before his next at-bat. ... The Brewers, Braves and Phillies are the only teams with winning records at 4-year-old Busch. ... Fielder has five multihomer games this season, 17 for his career. ... The Cardinals finished with attendance of more than 3.3 million after their 35th sellout. ... Hoffman blew four saves in 42 chances, the last two against the Cardinals.
Last updated: 11:49 am Thursday, December 13, 2012