CINCINNATI (AP) — The clubhouse rocked with music played by a DJ. Television screens showed the Cubs losing again, moving the Brewers to the verge of another postseason berth.
“Yes!” one Brewer yelled as the Pirates piled it on against Chicago.
Already, it was quite a party. The real one was now only one more win away.
Ryan Braun added to his impressive total of homers at Great American Ball Park, and the Brewers moved one win away from clinching a wild-card berth Tuesday night, beating the Cincinnati Reds 4-2 for their fifth straight victory.
“To do it here tomorrow would be incredible,” said Brent Suter (4-0 ), who attended Ken Griffey Jr.’s high school in Cincinnati. “I’m hoping for it.”
Just like last season, when Milwaukee put on a late rush to take the NL Central title, the Brewers have closed in on a playoff spot with a September flourish. They’ve won 16 of 18, positioning themselves for one of the NL wild cards along with Washington.
“They’ve recognized what’s at stake,” manager Craig Counsell said. “I think the common theme in both cases is we were chasing something, and that’s lent some urgency to everything we’ve done. And I think our players have responded really well to that sense of urgency.”
A win at Great American on Wednesday night or losses by the Cubs and Mets would give Milwaukee a second straight playoff appearance. The Brewers trail the Cardinals in the NL Central.
With 2018 National League MVP Christian Yelich sidelined by a broken right kneecap, the Brewers have turned to their deep bullpen and different combinations of hitting stars each night. Milwaukee has the best record in the majors in September at 18-4.
“I’ve seen glimpses of it being there, but it all started to fall into place for us,” said Adrian Houser, who worked the first four innings.
Braun connected for his 21st homer off Sonny Gray (11-8), making the final start of his All-Star season. Braun’s 27 homers at Great American his most in any road ballpark, and his 44 career against Cincinnati are his highest total against any team.
Braun has been a solid contributor lately, going 9 for 21 in his last seven games. He also singled off Gray, who went five innings and fanned six to top 200 strikeouts for the first time in his career.
“It means a lot,” Gray said. “I know we lost, and I hate to lose, but it’s a good feeling. It’s been quite a ride this year. I’m overwhelmed with emotion.”
Yasmani Grandal’s double tied it at 2 in the third, and Keston Hiura put the Brewers ahead to stay with a sacrifice fly.
Houser gave up a broken-bat RBI double by Aristides Aquino and a run-scoring single by Tucker Barnhart in the first inning. The Reds lead the majors with 128 runs and 125 RBIs in the first inning.
Suter allowed three hits in three innings. Josh Hader allowed a pair of hits in the ninth before fanning Kyle Farmer on a slider for his 36th save in 42 chances.
AND THIS ONE BELONGS …
Marty Brennaman began his last series after 46 years broadcasting Reds games. He hasn’t decided what to say in his final sign-off Thursday, but said it will be “the hardest day of my life.”
The left-hander matched his season high with three innings. He has allowed only six hits and no runs in his last 15 innings, becoming an integral part of the Brewers’ September surge.
“I don’t know what to say,” Counsell said. “It’s been more than we could have ever thought. He’s doing his thing, and he keeps doing it and he’s doing it very well.”
SHADES OF GRAY
Gray and Luis Castillo are the first duo of Reds pitchers to reach 200 strikeouts in a season. Gray has allowed six or fewer hits in his last 33 starts, a major league record.
Brewers: RH Brandon Woodruff won’t pitch in Cincinnati, Counsell said. Woodruff returned from an oblique injury on Sept. 17 and had made a pair of two-inning appearances as the Brewers ease him back.
Reds: INF Freddy Galvis was still sick from a virus that has affected a half-dozen Reds in the last few days.
Brewers: Jordan Lyles (11-8) is 6-1 with a 2.35 ERA in 10 starts with Milwaukee, which got him from Pittsburgh on July 29.
Reds: Tyler Mahle (2-11) hasn’t won since May 31, but has been a victim of a blown save in two of his last four starts.