MILWAUKEE -- You can close the books on the Brewers' regularly scheduled 2017 home slate, but don't shutter Miller Park for winter just yet.Brett Phillips and the Brewers kept their postseason hopes alive with a 4-3 win over the Reds in Thursday's regular-season home finale, with the rookie outfielder delivering
MILWAUKEE -- You can close the books on the Brewers' regularly scheduled 2017 home slate, but don't shutter Miller Park for winter just yet.
Brett Phillips and the Brewers kept their postseason hopes alive with a 4-3 win over the Reds in Thursday's regular-season home finale, with the rookie outfielder delivering the go-ahead run on a sixth-inning double moments after the Reds had rallied to tie, and relievers Anthony Swarzak and Corey Knebel closing it out.
Milwaukee gained a half-game on idle Colorado in the race for the second National League Wild Card, but still trails by two games with three to play. The Brewers finish the regular season with three road games against the Cardinals, who lost to the Cubs on Thursday night and were eliminated from playoff contention. The Rockies finish at home against the playoff-bound Dodgers.
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"This team is relentless. We keep fighting," Phillips said. "That's what we've shown these last couple of weeks, chasing the Rockies and the Cubs. These are must-win games. Going to St. Louis for three, we owe to each other to play hard, and that's what we're going to do."
Patrick Kivlehan homered off Brewers starter Brent Suter in the fourth inning and former Brewer Scooter Gennett delivered an RBI single in Cincinnati's tying, two-run sixth before Phillips reclaimed the lead. Orlando Arcia came back from an 0-2 count to work a two-out walk from Reds starter Sal Romano before Phillips ripped a 1-0 fastball past right fielder Jesse Winker for the go-ahead double.
"[Romano] had two outs relatively quickly and then a walk and then Phillips hits the gap-shot that drives in the go-ahead run and we weren't really able to do much the rest of the way," Reds manager Bryan Price said.
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Swarzak worked around three walks in two scoreless innings before Knebel pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning for his 39th save, freezing at two the Rockies' magic number to clinch the Wild Card over the Brewers.
"We've had a lot of adrenaline flowing these last few games and this last month," Knebel said. "The bullpen has been holding up and doing our job. We all feel great."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Hamilton's costly error: The Brewers took a 3-1 lead in the fifth after Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton misplayed Neil Walker's double to the gap in right-center field. Eric Sogard scored from first base when Walker's hit ticked off the end of Hamilton's glove for an error that pushed Walker all the way to third base. Walker is no Hamilton on the basepaths, so the extra 90 feet proved useful when Walker scored on Ryan Braun's RBI single.
Hughes escapes: After Suter threw 23 pitches in the fifth inning, Counsell let him bat leading off the bottom of the frame to delay a dip into the bullpen. That decision backfired, as the first three Reds to bat against Suter in the sixth delivered hits, including Gennett's RBI single, and Winker greeted reliever Oliver Drake with another RBI single for a 3-3 tie. Jared Hughes took over and faced a bases-loaded, no-out jam after he bobbled Jose Peraza's bunt for an error, but he recovered to strike out Adam Duvall and induce an inning-ending double play from Stuart Turner.
"There were a lot of big moments in the game, certainly," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "Jared Hughes' inning, just to keep it there - bases loaded, nobody out -- and he strikes out Duvall and goes 3-2 [on Turner] and then gets a big double play to keep it there."
Said Hughes: "The error, that was frustrating. But at the same time, I realized that nothing came in and I could still get out of it."
In the eighth, representing the tying run with a runner on first base, Turner also struck out to end the inning.
"If this is a playoff run and we're the team that's running toward the playoffs, maybe we play that a little differently," Price said. "But we have to see these guys. We've been trying to run our best teams out there as much as possible against these playoff-type teams. You can't concede all of September for the benefit of the other teams that are in the race. That's unfair for our team, unfair to our players that are here to get a look or get some opportunities to play. Today was his day. I thought, all-in-all, he handled himself pretty well."
"I saw something like the odds are 90-something percent for the Rockies to go to the postseason, but you never know. I like our chances because we've got a team that fights, and we're going to hopefully go to the last out of the last game with a chance to win this thing and get to the postseason. I'm very excited." -- Suter
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
In the seventh after drawing a walk, Hamilton stole second base and now has a career-high 59 steals this season. The last Reds player with a 60-steal season was Eric Davis in 1986. If Hamilton -- who had no steals in the first four games since returning from the disabled list -- can hold off Dee Gordon, he can be the first Red to lead the NL in steals since Bobby Tolan (57) in '70.
Reds: The first game of the final series of 2017 will bring the Reds to Wrigley Field to face the NL Central-champion Cubs at 2:20 p.m. ET. Robert Stephenson will make the start. In his past seven starts, Stephenson is 5-2 with a 2.87 ERA.
Brewers: Milwaukee has steady right-hander Chase Anderson on the mound Friday for a 7:15 p.m. CT series opener against the Cardinals at Busch Stadium. Anderson has a 2.95 ERA in eight career starts against St. Louis.
Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.
Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.