Morgan lifts Brewers past Diamondbacks 3-2 in 10
Morgan hit a one-out grounder up the middle and Diamondbacks closer J.J. Putz tried in vain to stop it with his leg. Carlos Gomez sailed across home plate as a wild throw home went high, and Morgan was mobbed by teammates near the mound after Milwaukee's first victory in a postseason series since the Brewers won the AL pennant in 1982.
Arizona did all it could to extend its surprising season. Center fielder Chris Young made an astounding catch in the sixth and the Diamondbacks had one last comeback left in the ninth.
Willie Bloomquist drove in the tying run with a safety squeeze, but the Diamondbacks were unable to forge ahead against closer John Axford.
Morgan was a critical addition for the Brewers this year and had several clutch hits, winning fans along the way with his oversized personality that includes a wildman alter-ego he calls "Tony Plush." But he wasn't having a particularly productive series until his big moment in the deciding game.
Next, the Brewers move on to face Friday night's winner of Game 5 between St. Louis and Philadelphia. The NLCS begins Sunday, with either the Phillies or Brewers opening at home.
With a 2-1 lead and their tough 1-2 bullpen combination of Francisco Rodriguez and Axford lined up for the eighth and ninth, the Brewers appeared to have their ticket punched to the NLCS.
But the Diamondbacks had the most comeback victories in the majors this season (48) and weren't about to go away easily.
They nearly got the best of Rodriguez in the eighth. He loaded the bases with two outs for Ryan Roberts, one of two Diamondbacks players to hit a grand slam in the series. But Rodriguez got Roberts to ground into a forceout at second base, ending the threat.
Axford pitched the ninth, allowing a leadoff double to Gerardo Parra. The reliever nearly hit pinch-hitter Sean Burroughs with a pitch, then Burroughs blooped a single to put runners on first and third.
Bloomquist pushed a bunt to the right side and first baseman Prince Fielder nearly collided with Axford while fielding the ball. Fielder stumbled and was unable to get off a throw to the plate as the tying run scored.
Justin Upton grounded into a forceout at second and pinch-hitter Henry Blanco hit a grounder to shortstop. Yuniesky Betancourt fielded the ball and barely beat Upton to second base to end the inning — although Betancourt paid for it, getting spiked in the left leg.
Axford ended the regular season with 43 straight saves, and saved Game 1 of the series. He had not blown a save chance since April 18 at Philadelphia.
Axford got the win despite a rough outing. Putz took the loss.
Last updated: 6:46 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012