Surging Brewers rally with 3 in ninth, stun Nats

Associated Press Modified: September 22, 2012 at 12:32 am •  Published: September 22, 2012
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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Milwaukee Brewers used a late rally to keep alive their playoff push.

Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez had consecutive RBI hits in the ninth inning off Nationals closer Tyler Clippard and the Milwaukee Brewers extended their season-high winning streak to six games with a 4-2 win over the Washington Nationals on Friday night.

The victory combined with a St. Louis loss moved the Brewers within 1 1-2 games of the Cardinals for the final wild card berth in the National League.

Held to one run over eight innings against Nationals starter Edwin Jackson, the Brewers scored three against Clippard (2-6).

"We have to win games. We're not in a position where we can rely on other people to lose," said Braun, who finished with three hits including two doubles.

"We knew heading into today's game that we finally had an opportunity to pick up a game if we won and it looked improbable, but we found a way again."

Norichika Aoki led off the ninth with bunt single, took second on a passed ball by catcher Jesus Flores and moved to third on Rickie Weeks' fly ball out.

Rather than intentionally walk the reigning National League Most Valuable Player, the Nationals pitched to Braun who promptly singled to left, scoring Aoki. Braun then stole second and came around to score the go-ahead run on Ramirez's double to left. After moving to third on a Clippard wild pitch, Ramirez scored on Travis Ishikawa's infield single.

Jose Veras (5-4) worked one inning in relief and John Axford pitched the ninth for his 32nd save.

"I think anytime you don't score for a long period it seems like the energy is gone, but I watched the way the guys were playing," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "We're still getting after it. I haven't for a long time -- I haven't seen this team just kind of show up. That's not what they're doing."

Despite the loss, Washington's magic number for clinching the NL East fell to seven following Atlanta's loss at Philadelphia. On Thursday, the Nationals clinched the first postseason berth by a Washington baseball team since 1933.

"That one hurt," said Nationals manager Davey Johnson, who admitted he was "tempted" to let Jackson pitch the ninth. Instead he went with Clippard, who only got two outs and allowed three runs on four hits in his fifth blown save on the season and third loss this month. In nine September appearances, he has allowed nine earned runs in 8 1-3 innings.

"I'm trying to figure it out, I'm searching right now," Clippard said. "We'll get it figured out, I'm not too worried about it. I'm still confident as heck. It hurt tonight, I'm not going to lie to you."

Before the game Nationals manager Davey Johnson announced he plans to use Clippard and Drew Storen in the closer role going forward. Clippard has 32 saves this season after taking over for Storen, who underwent elbow surgery this year after recording 43 saves in 2011

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