Braun homers in 11th to lift Brewers over Rockies
MILWAUKEE Ryan Braun said he played the worst 10 innings of the season. Good thing it went 11.
Braun homered leading off the 11th and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Rockies 2-1 on Tuesday night to win their sixth straight at home over Colorado.
"Tonight was not a pretty game, we didn't play well," Braun said. "It was nice to find a way a win. I don't think we really deserved that game. But good teams find a way to win games they shouldn't sometimes."
Prince Fielder also went deep for Milwaukee, which remained 6½ games ahead of second-place St. Louis in the NL Central with 13 to play.
"It's close to the end, we want to hurry up and get it done if we can," Fielder said. "You can't control what the Cardinals do. We can only control what we can do."
Zack Greinke labored through five innings before the Brewers' bullpen picked him up. LaTroy Hawkins, Takashi Saito, Francisco Rodriguez, John Axford and Kameron Loe (4-7) combined for six scoreless innings.
"All the credit for tonight's win goes to our bullpen (and) for Greinke battling through our horrendous defensive performance," Braun said. "It's just nice to find a way to win."
Fielder homered in the sixth to tie it and it stayed that way until the 11th, when Braun homered off Matt Lindstrom (2-2) and pumped his right fist in excitement before joining the scrum at home plate.
Braun had been 0 for 4 leading up to that point, misplayed a ball that led to the Rockies' only run and needed a 10-pitch at-bat to connect off Lindstrom.
"It's fun to play meaningful games this time of year. Obviously, we understand what's at stake," Braun said. "I had plenty of pent-up aggression before I hit that ball."
After the Rockies scored early, Fielder hit his 32nd homer after coming in with just two extra-base hits over his previous 35 at-bats. It was his first homer since Sept. 2 in Houston.
In the eighth, Mark Ellis led off with a single and reached second, but Milwaukee shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt grabbed Todd Helton's liner to end the inning. Axford didn't allow a baserunner in the ninth and worked around Dexter Fowler's one-out single in the 10th.
The Rockies put runners in scoring position with two outs against Loe in the 11th, but Wilin Rosario grounded out to end the inning.
"We gave a hell of an effort against a very, very good baseball team with a lot at stake," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "What it simply boils down to is just a timely hit somewhere as that game was unfolding. "
Milwaukee started with a victory in its final stretch of 14 games against teams with losing records in the quest to wrap up its first division title since winning the AL East in 1982. The Cardinals beat the Pirates 6-4 earlier Tuesday.
Helton, Ellis, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and right fielder Carlos Gonzalez all returned to the Rockies' lineup after missing at least one game because of injuries, but Tulowitzki (hip) and Helton (back) left before the game ended.
Tulowitzki started a double play off his back foot in the fourth inning that got starter Esmil Rogers out of a jam. Rogers worked six innings, his only costly mistake coming to Fielder.
In the third, Greinke saved a run with a spectacular play. With the bases loaded and two outs, he spiked a breaking ball that got away from catcher Jonathan Lucroy.
Greinke quickly sprinted toward the loose ball, grabbed it with his glove and flipped it out to Lucroy, who blocked the plate and was able to tag out Ellis to end the inning.
Both teams cut down a run at the plate early.
Brewers third baseman Casey McGehee threw out Ellis on a fielder's choice in the first, and Rickie Weeks was tagged out at home by Rosario trying to score from first on McGehee's double in the second.
Colorado scored in the fourth on Rosario's single to take a 1-0 lead. Greinke struck out nine, but only made it through five innings because he threw 116 pitches after the Brewers committed two errors that he worked around.
"It was a fun game — in the end," Greinke said. "It was stressful at the time."
NOTES: Officials decided to close the roof at Miller Park early Tuesday because of smoke drifting about 400 miles southeast from a large wildfire in Minnesota. ... Weeks left before the start of the seventh as the Brewers continue to limit his innings in his return from a severely sprained left ankle. ... Tulowitzki hit a ball that bounced off the roof's support cables in left field during the third inning. The ball was ruled foul, though it landed in the field of play. ... Brewers RHP Shaun Marcum (12-6, 3.25 ERA) faces Rockies RHP Kevin Millwood (2-2, 3.79) in the finale of this two-game set Wednesday night.