That was the Brewers' formula for a 1-0 win over the D-backs at Miller Park on Tuesday, when Domingo Santana overcame a case of home run robbery in the fourth inning to deliver the go-ahead sacrifice fly in the sixth before Hader and Knebel battled Arizona hitters -- and some frustration aimed at plate umpire Angel Hernandez -- to make that run stand.
Credit Brewers manager Craig Counsell with an honorary save for sprinting into the middle of a quarrel between Knebel and Hernandez after a disputed walk leading off the ninth inning. Counsell took his second ejection of the season but Knebel remained, and went on to seal the Brewers' ninth win in their last 12 games.
As a result, Milwaukee is the first National League team to reach the 30-win plateau.
"It was more about protecting Corey, for sure," Counsell said. "[The players] had a bigger job than I did at that point."
He added with a smile, "I was happy with how fast I got out there for a 47-year-old."
The Brewers took issue with a ball 4 leading off each of the final two innings -- Jarrod Dyson against Hader in the eighth, and Jake Lamb against Knebel in the ninth. Both times, Brewers catcher Manny Pina came to the rescue, throwing out Dyson trying to steal second in the eighth and pinch-runner Nick Ahmed in the ninth.
Those big outs helped preserve a shutout started by Jhoulys Chacin (five scoreless innings, two hits, four walks, six strikeouts) and finished by relievers Matt Albers, Hader and Knebel. It was Milwaukee's third shutout of Arizona in 149 matchups all time, including the 2011 National League Division Series. The Brewers had not blanked the D-backs since Aug. 20, 2007 -- the night Jeff Cirillo pitched against the Brewers at Chase Field.
"I know if we score one run," said Chacin, "we have a good chance to win the ballgame."
Hader was not the strikeout machine of recent outings, but he did log two more whiffs to give him 27 straight appearances with at least one strikeout -- the longest active streak by a reliever in the Majors -- and benefitted from fantastic defense in two scoreless innings.
Knebel, recently off the disabled list and back in the closer role, logged his second save in as many nights. He went into the manager's office after the game and thanked Counsell for getting between him and Hernandez. Knebel was upset with two pitches, a 2-2 fastball on the outside edge called Ball 3, and a full-count fastball on the inner half of home plate called Ball 4.
"If it wasn't for [Counsell] and his incredible speed, it could have been a little different situation," Knebel said.
Knebel admitted he let his emotions get to him at a critical moment.
"When I threw my hands up, I realized it was stupid. 'Don't do this. You can't get thrown out of the game right now,'" Knebel said. "It was a real heated situation. … Right there, 1-0, last inning, guy on first instead of one out. It could have been a different ballgame. Luckily, it wasn't."
Said Hader: "We have our hearts in these games. That's how much it means to us."
The Brewers have won four of five games over the past nine days against a slumping D-backs team that has lost six in a row and 12 of 13.
"I've been in this game a long time and I've seen some teams go through things like this," Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. "But this team is very capable and it gets frustrating because we have guys that are proven hitters at this level, and unfortunately are not executing."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Dyson robs Santana: Before Santana supplied the only offense with a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning against former Brewer Jorge De La Rosa, he was the victim of Dyson's robbery. Santana was inches from a three-run home run in the fourth, only to see the Arizona center fielder make a fantastic leaping catch to pull the baseball back over the wall for the inning-ending out.
"He brought it back, for sure," said Hader, who had one of the best views in the ballpark from the Brewers' bullpen. "I thought it was gone. I looked over and say him running off. That's tough."
"Even after I saw that video," said Santana, "man, he took a couple of steps forward and then he went back, he gathered himself and made a great catch. Next time, I hope I can hit it on a line. … He made a good catch. I'm just glad we got the win."
Cain's sliding catch: "Obviously, I'm not perfect," said Hader after grinding through two innings that included a rare hit by a left-handed batter, David Peralta, boosting lefties to 2-for-30 (.067) against Hader this season. In the seventh, it was the first of Hader's two walks that put Arizona in business for pinch-hitter John Ryan Murphy, who hit a fly ball to shallow center field that was caught by Lorenzo Cain with a nifty slide. He flipped the ball back to the infield to double-up Ketel Marte, ending the threat.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS Pina is hitting .333 (11-for-33) with three doubles and a home run over his last nine games, with at least one hit in eight of those games. That's a big deal for a Brewers offense looking for production at the bottom of the order. But it was Pina's arm that most impacted Tuesday's win.
In the eighth, he threw an 81.8 mph strike to shortstop Orlando Arcia, according to Statcast™, to nab Dyson, whose 30.6 feet per second sprint speed put him in the elite range. Arcia did a nice job of maintaining his tag on Dyson when Dyson lost contact with the bag.
An inning later, Pina registered a 1.85 second pop time and an 84.9 mph throw to retire Ahmed.
Pina averaged 84.9 mph on "max effort" throws last year, which ranked ninth of 61 qualifying catchers.
HE SAID IT "I'm really happy with how our guys kept making pitches. It's a good learning lesson for them, that when the emotions get higher and the tensions get higher, and you want pitches that much more, you've got to be ready emotionally to handle not getting what you want sometimes." -- Counsell, on Hader and Knebel
UP NEXT Brent Suter gets back on the mound for the Brewers in the finale of the three-game series against the D-backs at 12:10 p.m. CT on Wednesday. Suter (3-3, 4.72 ERA) last pitched over the weekend in Minnesota, picking up the win after 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball. Wednesday is the third game of the Brewers' 10-game homestand, which features series against the New York Mets and St. Louis Cardinals over the next week. RHP Zack Godley (4-3, 3.78 ERA) will get the nod for the D-backs.