Braun homers for Brewers, leads NL batting race
Ryan Braun homered and raised his NL-best batting average to .333, lifting the Milwaukee Brewers to a team-record 55th victory at home, 9-5 over the Florida Marlins on Sunday.
Every position player had a hit for the NL Central champions before the first out of the third as Milwaukee swept the season series from the Marlins (7-0) for the first time since 1998.
Milwaukee scored three in the second and four in the third before Braun's opposite-field solo shot in the fourth. The sellout crowd again serenaded him with chants of "M-V-P" as it did throughout a memorable weekend.
Braun finished 2 for 3 before leaving after the fifth and leads Mets shortstop Jose Reyes (.331) for the batting title. No Brewers player has ever won the crown.
On Friday, Braun's three-run homer in the eighth inning led Milwaukee to a 4-1 victory and its first division title since winning the AL East in 1982. On Saturday, he drove in two runs as the Brewers rallied from three deficits for a 6-4 win.
In this one, Braun singled and scored in the four-run third before hitting his 33rd homer off reliever Brian Sanches to give Milwaukee an 8-1 lead in the fourth.
Braun, Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks all left the game in the later innings as manager Ron Roenicke works to give his starters as much rest as he can before the postseason.
The Brewers have won seven of nine and need to finish with a better record than NL West champion Arizona to secure home-field advantage in the first round.
Playing at home is especially important to the Brewers.
Milwaukee is a major league-best 55-23 at Miller Park, topping the 1978 club's 54-27 mark at County Stadium.
The Brewers finish the regular season against Pittsburgh beginning Monday and are 36-3 at Miller Park against the Pirates over the last five seasons.
The Marlins finished 40-41 on the road and return home to face Washington in their final series at Sun Life Stadium before moving into a new retractable-roof ballpark next season.
Emilio Bonifacio led off the game with a homer against Chris Narveson (11-8) for the switch-hitter's second home run in as many days and first in 390 career right-handed at-bats. Donnie Murphy added a fifth-inning homer that made it 8-2.
Narveson worked into the seventh in his longest outing since July 31 before Omar Infante's two-run double off Kameron Loe made it 8-4. The Brewers added a run in the bottom of the inning and the Marlins answered in the eighth.
Florida starter Ricky Nolasco (10-12) didn't get much defensive help.
The Brewers hit three consecutive RBI singles in the second that all barely left the infield following third baseman Matt Dominguez's error to take a 3-1 lead.
Milwaukee scored four more in the third inning to make it 7-1, chasing Nolasco on Jerry Hairston Jr.'s run-scoring double. Yuniesky Betancourt's RBI single off Sandy Rosario gave every Brewers starter a hit before the first out in the third.
NOTES: Brewers 3B Casey McGehee had a day off after a 1-for-31 slump. Roenicke said "good question" when asked whether McGehee will be the starter when the playoffs begin. He said the Brewers are in the process of evaluating it. ... The Brewers will use potential NLDS Game 1 starter RHP Shaun Marcum (13-7, 3.31 ERA) against Pirates RHP Charlie Morton (10-10, 3.67) on Monday. ... The Marlins, to be renamed the Miami Marlins on Nov. 11, will start RHP Anibal Sanchez (8-9, 3.67) against Nationals LHP Tommy Milone (1-0, 3.32) in Monday night's opener.
Last updated: 6:16 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012