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Bats 'firing on all cylinders' down the stretch

MLB.com

MILWAUKEE -- In terms of offensive outbursts, the Brewers' eighth inning on Friday night used a series of explosions to sink the Marlins.

On Sunday, the Brewers poked holes in the Marlins' defense to score eight runs -- seven with two outs -- in the fourth inning as part of a 10-3 win at Miller Park.

Full Game Coverage

MILWAUKEE -- In terms of offensive outbursts, the Brewers' eighth inning on Friday night used a series of explosions to sink the Marlins.

On Sunday, the Brewers poked holes in the Marlins' defense to score eight runs -- seven with two outs -- in the fourth inning as part of a 10-3 win at Miller Park.

Full Game Coverage

Milwaukee chased Dillon Peters in his fourth career start, knocking three consecutive hits to open the frame to get on the board for the first time. After a pair of strikeouts of Keon Broxton and Orlando Arcia appeared to halt the short-lived burst, pitcher Brandon Woodruff kept things going with a five-pitch walk.

Woodruff relied on his polish of hitting regularly as a college freshman at Mississippi State to calmly lay off a 1-1 curveball and earn his way on base.

"I think that kind of propelled that big inning there," Woodruff said. "I always grew up hitting. I hit a little bit my freshman year of college, so I guess I've handled a bat before."

Video: MIL@MIA: Woodruff walks and loads the bases

The next six men would follow Woodruff in reaching base safely, with Manny Pina's second RBI single of the inning capping the scoring.

"It just snowballed," said third baseman Travis Shaw, who collected two of his three hits and one of his three RBIs over the course of that fourth inning.

Video: MIL@MIA: Shaw plates Santana with a bloop single

Milwaukee got contributions from everyone as all nine starters reached base. Domingo Santana, who moved to .391 this season with nine homers and 24 RBIs in Sunday games, connected on the big blow: a bases-clearing double.

Video: MIL@MIA: Santana clears the bases on a double to left

The Brewers' offense has struggled in the second half of the season, averaging fewer than four runs per game entering Sunday. It had become increasingly reliant on the long ball, which while successful at times -- the Brewers are climbing the record books for the most homers in club history -- can lead to a boom-or-bust type of production.

Sunday marked just the 12th time this season the Brewers had won without hitting a home run. So, as Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell put it in a tongue-in-cheek manner, is this the new "Brewers offense"?

"It's unlikely," Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun said with a laugh.

"I think we've probably established ourselves as an offense. I'd take the larger sample size over the last few days, but we can string together rallies like this. It's harder to string together four, five, six hits to score multiple runs, but certainly we have the personnel that's capable of doing that. I think that more often than that we're going to score most of our runs via the home run."

The home runs are coming as well, as Friday's outburst of three dingers in one inning displayed. But to be able to string together rallies and play small ball is a promising sign.

"We're doing it besides hitting homers, too," Shaw said. "That's a good sign, when we're not relying on the homer. The homers are coming still, but we're scoring other ways with it."

Video: MIL@MIA: Shaw brings home Villar with an RBI single

It's coming at the right time, too. Sunday's win allowed the Brewers to keep pace with the Cubs, who beat the Cardinals 4-3, remaining four games back in the National League Central. Milwaukee will keep its eye on Colorado, too, with the Brewers having a near equal distance for the second National League Wild Card spot.

"We're starting to kind of fire on all cylinders," Braun said. "The offense is getting going again. If we continue to play like this with everybody contributing, I like our chances."

Fabian Ardaya is a reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Milwaukee Brewers