It was only a matter of time, but the Cincinnati Reds officially ended the Milwaukee Brewers chance at appearing in the postseason, when they took a 5-3 victory at Great American Ballpark on Thursday afternoon.
The Brewers (81-78) led the NL Central for much of the season and entered September atop the division, but lost eight of nine, including three of four to the then second place Cardinals. Milwaukee was then passed by Pittsburgh for the Wild Card and saw San Francisco clinch the final playoff spot with a win Thursday night. The Brewers end their season against the Chicago Cubs (71-88) who will need a sweep and a Pirates (87-72) sweep of the Reds (74-85) to finish in a two way tie with Cincinnati for fourth place.
David Holmberg (2-2) had a strong outing and finally got some run support over his six innings of work. Yovani Gallardo (8-11) was let down by his team’s in ability to catch a baseball in key situations that led to a couple of Reds runs. Gallardo did get the early lead when Rickie Weeks hit a solo homer to center field, giving Milwaukee a 1-0 advantage. A wild pitch by Gallardo allowed the tying run to get in scoring position for Jay Bruce who singled home Brandon Phillips to tie the game in the third. The lead then jumped back to Milwaukee after another wild pitch, this time by Holmberg, put a runner in scoring position and Khris Davis came through with a sac fly to hand the Brewers a short lived 2-1 lead in the fourth.
Todd Frazier reached on an error after Brewers first baseman Jason Rogers was unable to catch the back end of a double play. Bruce followed with a double and then Ryan Ludwick got a gift from Weeks who dropped a catch in right field to score Frazier. Yorman Rodriguez followed with an RBI single to score Bruce and the Reds claimed a 3-2 lead in the fifth. Phillips launched his first homer since June 26 as he sent a towering drive to left that also scored Jason Bourgeois.
Sam LeCure allowed a run in relief of Holmberg, but it came on a double play with the bases loaded. Jumbo Diaz finished the inning for LeCure and got Ryan Braun to ground out. Diaz pitched a scoreless eighth and Aroldis Chapman worked a scoreless ninth to pick up his 35th save of the season. Jonathan Broxton also made his first appearance at GABP since being traded to the Brewers for two minor league players back in late August.
The Reds will now look to spoil the Pirates bid for the not only home field advantage in the Wild Card game, but also a chance to win the NL Central. The Pirates trail the Cardinals by a game for the division, but St. Louis will play an Arizona team that will fail to reach 70 wins this season. Vance Worley (8-4, 2.93 ERA) looks to put together another strong outing after tossing eight scoreless in his last appearance with Mike Leake (11-13, 3.78 ERA) taking the ball for the Reds. Leake is 1-0 against the Pirates, but Cincinnati has gone on to lose three of the four games he’s started against Pittsburgh.