From Ryan Braun’s RBI double in the first inning, the Milwaukee Brewers continued to find a continuing string of heroes Monday night as they scored a 4-0 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers to take a 2-1 lead in the National League Championship Series.
Braun’s double plated MVP candidate Christian Yelich, who drew a walk after falling behind, 1-2, in the count.
When the top of the first ended, Jhoulys Chacin took to the mound for what would be his second scoreless outing of the post-season. Chacin threw 5 1/3 shutout innings, departing after an error on Mike Moustakas put Justin Turner on second in the bottom of the sixth. Do not forget the under-the-radar signing of Chacin when Brewers GM David Stearns is handed the Executive of the Year award.
By that time, the lead had reached 2-0, as Travis Shaw crashed a triple off the center-field fence. Shaw scored when Dodgers starter Walker Buehler spiked a curveball that Yasmani Grandal couldn’t block.
When Chacin departed, Hero No. 4 entered. Corey Knebel looked absolutely unhittable, retiring all five hitters he faced — four of them just overmatched for strikeouts. Knebel’s recovery from an August trip to Colorado Springs is one of the more remarkable parts of the Brewers’ September/October run.
Knebel’s brilliant outing got the Brewers to the eighth, and Hero No. 5’s bat got them there with twice the cushion.
Orlando Arcia followed Erik Kratz’s double by driving an outside fastball off Buehler over the fence in the right-field corner. How heroic has Arcia’s post-season been? He has as many homers (three) in 20 post-season plate appearances as he had in 366 regular-season plate appearances. Like Knebel, Arcia spent a brief amount of time in Colorado Springs when his production lagged badly.
Joakim Soria got the first out of the eighth, and Josh Hader wiped out a pair of Dodgers on overmatched strikeouts to get the game to the ninth.
The only semi-negative of the night came when Jeremy Jeffress allowed the Dodgers to load the bases with one out, causing Brewers Twitter to go out of its mind. But Jeffress came back to strike out Grandal and pinch-hitter Brian Dozier.
The victory — the Brewers’ 13th in their last 14 games — marked the team’s first in franchise history in Game 3 of a seven-game post-season series. Milwaukee’s other seven-game series came in the 1982 World Series and the 2011 NLCS. In both of those series — both losses — the Brewers lost Games 2 and 3.
After the game, Counsell named Gio Gonzalez as his Game 4 starting pitcher. Gonzalez went just two innings in Game 1, but the fact Hader threw just eight pitches Monday night makes him likely to be available should the Brewers go to the bullpen early. Chacin’s outing was the second straight scoreless outing for a Brewers starter. Wade Miley threw 5 2/3 scoreless innings on Saturday. Gio Gonzalez started Game 1 and allowed a run in two innings. In the series, Milwaukee starters have allowed just one run in 13 innings for a 0.69 ERA.
With the strong performance Monday night, the Brewers also erased the sting of Saturday’s 4-3 loss in which the Brewres held a 3-0 lead. Jeffress took the loss in that game, allowing Justin Turner’s two-run, eighth-inning home run. The victory also guaranteed the Brewers of a return to Miller Park for at least another post-season game.