PHILADELPHIA -- It didn't fall easily, but the Brewers' longest losing streak of the season did finally fall.The Phillies trailed by seven runs in the seventh inning but stormed all the way back for a tie, before Domingo Santana's run-scoring single in the ninth gave the Brewers a 9-8 win
PHILADELPHIA -- It didn't fall easily, but the Brewers' longest losing streak of the season did finally fall.
The Phillies trailed by seven runs in the seventh inning but stormed all the way back for a tie, before Domingo Santana's run-scoring single in the ninth gave the Brewers a 9-8 win on Saturday at Citizens Bank Park. The nail-biting result snapped Philadelphia's three-game winning streak and Milwaukee's six-game skid, just in time to deny the Cubs a share of first place in the National League Central.
With 100 games in the books, the 53-47 Brewers remain Major League Baseball's most surprising division leaders.
"The challenge is to be in first place after 162 [games], not after 100," said Ryan Braun, who returned from a wrist injury to lead the Brewers' offense. "But certainly, we're excited about the position we're in."
• Healthy Braun makes impact on Crew's lineup
Braun reached safely in all four plate appearances coming off a three-day absence, driving in four runs, scoring three times and finishing a triple shy of the cycle before exiting in the seventh with the Brewers leading, 8-1. But Phillies leadoff man Cesar Hernandez hit a three-run home run off Oliver Drake in the Phillies' four-run seventh inning, and No. 8 hitter Cameron Rupp delivered a game-tying three-run shot off Jacob Barnes in the eighth, as Philadelphia erased the deficit.
"Nobody expected that," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said of Hernandez's homer, just his 14th in 1,445 Major League at-bats.
Travis Shaw also homered for the Brewers and had three hits, including a critical single in the ninth off Phillies closer Hector Neris that pushed Hernan Perez to third base for Santana's go-ahead hit. Brewers starter Brent Suter pitched six innings of one-run ball but was denied a win that went to Barnes instead, with Corey Knebel restoring order with a perfect ninth for his 17th save.
"It looks like the world's crumbling around us, but then we find a way to put a run in in the ninth, and Corey comes in and shuts the door," said Suter, who lowered his ERA as a starter to 1.96 in five games as a fill-in for the injured Chase Anderson. "It's obviously been a tough streak, things going wrong, and it seemed like more of the same. But it seems in baseball that once you're in one of those streaks, there's only one way to break out of it, and it's like that. A tough, grind-it-out game like that."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Four more: The Phillies had a four-run outburst of their own in store. It came against Drake, who took over in the seventh riding a stretch of 12 appearances in which the splitter specialist had held opponents to a .216 average with a 0.93 ERA and no inherited runners scored. He retired the first batter of the inning before the the next five Phillies batters reached safely, including pinch-hitter Cameron Perkins on a run-scoring double and Hernandez on a three-run homer that cut the deficit to 8-5 before Milwaukee's Jared Hughes halted the rally.
New ballgame: Brewers setup man Barnes inherited that three-run lead but lost it before recording an out. Nick Williams started the inning with a single before Odubel Herrera chopped a single over first base for his fourth hit. Rupp followed by lining a 2-1 fastball over the right-field fence, squaring the score at 8-8. The Phillies couldn't capitalize with a runner on first and no one out following the homer with a popped-up bunt and a misinterpreted sign by Perkins at first that resulted in a double play.
"[Hernandez] has got to be able to get the bunt down. That's why I did it," Mackanin said when asked why he put on the bunt with Barnes struggling.
Four-spot: During their six-game skid, the Brewers never scored more than three runs. They scored four times in the top of the third against Phillies starter Jeremy Hellickson thanks to Eric Thames' two-out walk followed by hits from Braun (double), Shaw (double) and Santana (single), with a run-scoring wild pitch mixed in. Those kind of clutch hits had been missing for the Brewers, who entered the night with six hits in their previous 50 at-bats with runners in scoring position dating to the second inning of the first game out of the All-Star break.
"It was exactly the kind of inning we haven't had during this streak -- a lot of two-out action," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "It was four guys with big at-bats with two outs. That's what we haven't been getting this past week."
"Someone just told me over our last 20 games we're now 12-8. It doesn't feel like it, obviously, when things aren't going well, but all you need is that one win to turn things around. Offensively, a lot of guys contributed tonight. You get a win like that, you start to feel better about yourself as a group." -- Braun, on the putting the club's recent losing streak into perspective
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
One batter after Thames was unable to haul in a throw from shortstop to begin the third, Phillies shortstop Freddy Galvis grounded into what was initially called a 4-6 fielder's choice. A Brewers challenge quickly overturned the call, ruling both runners out.
Brewers:Junior Guerra takes the mound for Sunday's 12:35 p.m. CT series finale, as he looks to build upon an encouraging no-decision in Pittsburgh earlier on the road trip. Guerra's four-seam fastball velocity, markedly down this season, averaged 93.5 mph against the Pirates, according to Statcast™, for his top mark this season. Guerra threw his five firmest pitches all season in that game, topping out at 95.6 mph.
Phillies:Jerad Eickhoff takes the hill for the Phillies in Sunday's 1:35 p.m. ET series finale. He has had one good and one bad start since returning from the DL, shutting out the Padres in five innings and allowing three homers (two to Giancarlo Stanton) in his last start, a no-decision in Miami. Eickhoff has struck out eight in both outings.
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Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast.
Ben Harris is a reporter for MLB.com based in Philadelphia.