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Brewers fall short in nail-biter finale

MLB.com

PHILADELPHIA -- Whatever magic came over the Brewers when they scored 12 runs in consecutive games on Friday and Saturday for the sixth time in franchise history dissipated in Sunday's 4-3 loss to the Phillies on Sunday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park.

The Brewers mustered two runs off Phillies starter Zach Eflin -- who matched a career-high nine strikeouts -- when they loaded the bases in the fifth, but the situation forced Brewers manager Craig Counsell to hit for starter Brandon Woodruff for the sake of run production. In the bottom half of the inning, Woodruff's replacement, Dan Jennings, gave the lead back to the Phillies and the advantage didn't shift again.

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PHILADELPHIA -- Whatever magic came over the Brewers when they scored 12 runs in consecutive games on Friday and Saturday for the sixth time in franchise history dissipated in Sunday's 4-3 loss to the Phillies on Sunday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park.

The Brewers mustered two runs off Phillies starter Zach Eflin -- who matched a career-high nine strikeouts -- when they loaded the bases in the fifth, but the situation forced Brewers manager Craig Counsell to hit for starter Brandon Woodruff for the sake of run production. In the bottom half of the inning, Woodruff's replacement, Dan Jennings, gave the lead back to the Phillies and the advantage didn't shift again.

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Video: MIL@PHI: Cain singles to left to tie the game

"[Woodruff was] throwing the ball really good," Counsell said. "It's a big scoring opportunity. There's a threat of rain, so we made a call to try to score runs that inning.

"It didn't work. I would do it again."

Video: MIL@PHI: Yelich draws a bases-loaded walk for a run

That decision took root when Ryan Braun's double led off the fifth inning. Eflin hit the next two batters. Before Lorenzo Cain singled with a comebacker off Eflin's right hand and Christian Yelich worked a seven-pitch walk to get Milwaukee on the board, the Brewers' need for offense forced Counsell to pinch-hit for Woodruff.

Video: MIL@PHI: Cain singles to left to tie the game

"That was the right choice," Woodruff said. He had thrown 67 pitches at that point.

With Jennings pitching the bottom half of the fifth, the Phillies, too, loaded the bases.

"It was the right matchup," Counsell said. "It's just one of those days where it didn't work."

The decisive inning began with Jennings allowing a leadoff single to J.P. Crawford, the only hit of the inning. Andrew Knapp reached on an error when Travis Shaw booted a grounder at third base and advanced to second when Jesus Aguilar threw too late to try to get Crawford at third on Eflin's sacrifice bunt. Crawford, Knapp and Eflin scored thanks to a walk, sac fly and fielder's choice, respectively, from the top of the Phillies batting order.

All of this came after Woodruff sent a first-inning pickoff attempt into foul territory, allowing Cesar Hernandez, who had singled to open the inning, to advance to third. Hernandez would then score on a groundout.

Video: MIL@PHI: Jennings ends jam with big strikeout

"We gave them their runs today, certainly," Counsell said.

Despite the loss, the Brewers leave Philadelphia having salvaged a road trip that started grim. They dropped two of three against the White Sox before being swept in two games by the Indians. Another loss could have meant the division lead they've held since May 18 would be no more. But after 27 runs scored and two wins here, they return home with a big series on the horizon. The Cubs will visit Miller Park Monday night just a half-game back and holding a 7-1 record against the Brewers this year.

"We just gotta go in there and try to do the same thing," Aguilar said. "Be aggressive in the strike zone. Try to play the same game, you know? It's not a big difference."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Seeing pitches: Counsell talked after Saturday's game about the effect of taking pitches and how it can affect a pitcher down the line. Eflin, though, did not seem fazed by facing eight batters in the fifth inning. He struck out Aguilar looking to leave the bases loaded that frame and worked a clean sixth inning with three straight Ks.

Video: MIL@PHI: Eflin ends frame with a big strikeout

Down to the wire: The Phillies entrusted Seranthony Dominguez with protecting a two-run lead. He easily navigated the bottom third of the Brewers' lineup in the seventh inning. He met trouble in the eighth after Braun plated Yelich with a single, but stabbed a Jonathan Villar comebacker and halted the Brewers from tying the game.

In the ninth, the Brewers brewed a rally against Luis Garcia when Domingo Santana knocked a pinch-hit single and Cain followed with a double. With runners on first and third, though, Yelich grounded out to a shifted Hernandez in shallow right field. The game ended.

"We gave ourselves a shot," Counsell said. "The ball Villar hits, I think if it gets by [Dominguez], it's up the middle, and having Yelly up with second and third, we'll take that every single time."

SOUND SMART
Braun went 2-for-4 Sunday to finish the series 6-for-12 with a double, triple, two home runs and seven RBIs after entering the weekend hitting .188 with one home run since the start of May. There's a reason Braun said Citizens Bank Park is one of his favorite places to play.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
The Phillies had a man on second base when Nick Williams lined a shot to shallow center field. Braun's pursuit appeared to be too late until he made a diving grab to secure the ball just before it hit the turf. The catch saved a run.

Video: MIL@PIT: Braun's diving catch in left ends the frame

HE SAID IT
"Today was probably I'd say my best start up here as far as locating and having good rhythm and using the offspeed and throwing that over for strikes. It was a good day." -- Woodruff, who finished with one hit and one unearned run in four innings pitched

UP NEXT
The Brewers return to Miller Park Monday at 7:10 p.m. CT for a three-game series against the Cubs, who have won seven of the eight games between the two teams this season. Junior Guerra (3-4, 2.83 ERA) faces Jose Quintana (6-4, 4.20 ERA). Quintana blanked the Brewers over seven innings during a 3-0 Cubs win on April 28.

Joe Bloss is a reporter for MLB.com based in Philadelphia.

Milwaukee Brewers