Phillies fall to Brewers 3-2

MILWAUKEE (AP) - September 11, 2011

Ryan Braun singled in the go-ahead run in the seventh after Morgan's tying hit and the slumping Brewers rallied for a much-needed 3-2 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday that snapped their skid at five.

"We realize we can play with them," Brewers right fielder Corey Hart said. "It'll prepare us for later on."

Trailing 2-1, Milwaukee strung together three consecutive hits with two out in the seventh to keep its dwindling NL Central lead at six with 14 games left. Second-place St. Louis also won, beating Atlanta 6-3.

Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo (16-10) matched a career high with 12 strikeouts over seven innings, but allowed homers to Shane Victorino and Ryan Howard in the sixth.

"They have a tough team, we all know that," Gallardo said.

Milwaukee (86-62) responded in the seventh. Hart and Morgan hit consecutive doubles to tie it. Braun followed with his clutch hit after he and Prince Fielder had been 0 for 4 with runners in scoring position.

"When you play against teams this good with the pitching staff as good as they are, you know you're not going to get a lot of opportunities," Braun said. "We had some chances, I definitely had some chances and didn't come through, so it was nice for us to come through in that seventh inning."

Philadelphia stranded runners at the corners in the eighth when Howard grounded out against Francisco Rodriguez.

John Axford allowed a one-out single by Pete Orr and a two-out walk to Michael Martinez before John Bowker popped out weakly. Axford has converted 39 consecutive save opportunities and is 42 for 44 overall.

"It's huge. It'd been a frustrating series so far," Axford said. "Today, it seemed a little that way, too, frustrating at times toward the end of the game, but we kept fighting."

Philadelphia had won six straight and was on an even bigger roll when Vance Worley (11-2) was on the mound. The Phillies had won Worley's last 14 starts dating to May 29, one short of the franchise record set when Steve Carlton was on the mound in 1972.

"It was fantastic. What all do I need to say about it? It's like heck man, he did a hell of a job," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "Can't say enough about him."

The Phillies could have clinched a playoff spot with a win and a St. Louis loss.

The major league-leading Phillies (94-49) remain 12 games ahead of Atlanta in the NL East and could wrap up their fifth straight division title as soon as Wednesday.

The Brewers entered last week with a 10½-game lead over St. Louis. Milwaukee plays no one with a winning record the rest of the year beginning on Tuesday against Colorado.

"You're not going to play anybody tougher than the Phillies," Braun said. "I think this is the best team in the National League and the best team in baseball, and has been all year."

Milwaukee's seventh-inning rally started with a flare double by Hart. Morgan then lashed one of his own and stretched his arms high above his head as part of his "beast mode" celebration he helped begin with Fielder this season.

"He's been amazing for us all year," Braun said. "He's done a lot of things to really contribute on the field, I think people lose sight of that because of his creativity and personality, but he's really been a great player on the field. Without him tying the game right there, I don't even get an at-bat."

Braun hit a long fly ball off Worley that was barely foul in the right-field corner, then singled to right to give Milwaukee a 3-2 lead.

"It figured that it went foul," Braun said. "Fortunately, I was still able to come through and get a hit."

Victorino led off the sixth with his 16th homer after Gallardo had allowed just one hit - a second-inning single to Howard - up to that point.

Howard added his 33rd home run and NL-best 112th RBI to put Philadelphia ahead 2-1 even though Gallardo had struck out two or more batters in four different innings.

Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks started for the first time since severely spraining his ankle on July 27. He scored Milwaukee's first run in the second on Jonathan Lucroy's groundout.

Worley worked around runners in scoring position in the first, third and fifth innings before the Brewers finally broke through against him in the seventh and held on from there.

"It's a good test. But when playoff time comes and October rolls around you throw all this out the door," Victorino said. "I don't think it's going to dictate what happens in October."

NOTES: It was Gallardo's 13th game with at least 10 strikeouts, including three this season. ... Milwaukee has a day off before starting a two-game series with Colorado. RHP Zack Greinke (14-6, 3.93 ERA) will pitch Tuesday's opener followed by RHP Shaun Marcum (12-6, 3.25 ERA). ... The Phillies continue their seven-game road trip with a series with the Astros. RHP Roy Oswalt (7-8, 3.72 ERA) makes his return to Houston where he'll face former Philadelphia RHP Brett Myers (4-13, 4.66 ERA).

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