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Hart rallies, Axford saves Brewers

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Associated Press
September 24, 2011
— Pinch-hitter Corey Hart had a go-ahead, two-run double in the seventh inning, and the Milwaukee Brewers rallied from three deficits to beat Florida 6-4 Saturday night and win their seventh straight against the Marlins.

Ryan Braun finished 2 for 3 to raise his batting average to .331, just ahead of the Mets' Jose Reyes (.330) for the NL lead. The Brewers have never had a batting champion.


John Axford converted his 45th save, a franchise record, and the NL Central champions came back from deficits of 1-0, 3-2 and 4-3.


Zack Greinke labored through five innings and was in line for his first loss at Miller Park in 14 starts this year. He is 10-0 at home, with the Brewers winning the games in which he didn't get a decision.


Emilio Bonifacio and Omar Infante homered, but Florida guaranteed its first last-place finish in the NL East since 2007. The team will be renamed the Miami Marlins on Nov. 11 as it prepares to move into its new retractable-roof ballpark.


Milwaukee improved to a major league-best 54-23 at home, matching the 1978 Brewers for most home wins in franchise history. They could use a few more.


Milwaukee entered ahead of Arizona in the NL standings and must finish with a better record than the Diamondbacks to secure homefield advantage in the first round of the playoffs.


The Brewers trailed 4-3 in the seventh when Jonathan Lucroy singled against Burke Badenhop (2-3) and pinch-hitter Jerry Hairston doubled. Badenhop left for Michael Dunn, and Hart came in as a pinch hitter after having a day out of the starting lineup to rest following Friday's 4-1 win that gave the Brewers their first division title in 29 years.


Hart's double put Milwaukee ahead, and he did a little twist in apparent celebration at second base. Braun singled Hart in two batters later for his 109th RBI.


Milwaukee's bullpen of Takashi Saito, LaTroy Hawkins (2-1), Francisco Rodriguez and Axford allowed two hits in four innings. Rodriguez worked around two runners in the eighth and Axford surpassed Francisco Cordero with his saves total, which includes 42 in a row.


Greinke didn't return for the sixth, and finished with a season-high five walks. It could have been even worse for the 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner, but he caught a break in the third with the bases loaded when he snagged Gaby Sanchez's sharp grounder and turned it into an inning-ending double play.


Greinke put his head down as a wide smile crossed his face after his play, but that was Milwaukee's biggest highlight until Hart's at-bat.


NOTES: Brewers manager Ron Roenicke says he'll use a four-man rotation in the playoffs, but there's still no decisions on who will pitch in each game. ... Bonifacio last homered on Aug. 23. ... Greinke struck out six and has 197 strikeouts this season despite missing the first month of the season because of a cracked rib. ... Marlins RHP Ricky Nolasco (10-11, 4.46 ERA) faces LHP Chris Narveson (10-8, 4.40) in Sunday's finale.



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