|Milwaukee (79-82) «||2||0||1||0||0||2||0||0||0||5||11||2|
|St. Louis (91-70)||2||0||1||0||1||0||0||0||0||4||9||3|
ST. LOUIS -- A late slump has assured the St. Louis Cardinals that they'll open the postseason on the road. Still to be decided is whether Kyle Lohse or John Smoltz will get the final spot in the NL Central champions' playoff rotation.
Lohse (6-10) worked six innings and allowed five runs, but only two earned. Tony La Russa will pick between Lohse and Smoltz for the fourth starting spot -- the manager wouldn't tip his hand while judging that Lohse did "mostly good things."
"Obviously I want to start, but that's not up to me," Lohse said. "I think Smoltzie and I are both just sitting there going, 'Just let us know what we're doing."'
The Cardinals have dropped to the third playoff seed ahead of only the wild-card winner.
"We're definitely not firing on all cylinders," La Russa said. "If it's true that we lost a little focus or lost an edge, that's not our style. The fact is we've gotten beat and at some places it has not been pretty, but we'll see if we can pretty tomorrow afternoon."
A late-season offensive splurge enabled Braun to reach 200 hits for the first time with one game to spare. He hit a two-run homer in the first inning and added an infield hit.
Braun is batting .432 (16 for 37) during an eight-game hitting streak with three homers and 10 RBI.
"It wasn't something I was thinking about at all, it wasn't on my radar," Braun said. "I'm swinging the bat well, and it's always nice to finish the season strong individually and as a team."
Second baseman Julio Lugo made two of the Cardinals' three errors, which matched a season high. His wild throw on Alcides Escobar's two-out, bases-loaded grounder allowed the tying and go-ahead runs to score in the sixth as the ball sailed over the heads of first baseman Albert Pujols and Lohse when both scurried to cover the bag.
Lohse was afraid somebody was going to get hurt and La Russa would have preferred Lugo go to second for a force.
"I tried to get to the ball but there wasn't any way I could have reached it without colliding with Albert," Lohse said. "I don't see anything good coming out of it, either one of us."
Braun leads the NL with 201 hits and is the fourth Brewer to top 200, joining Cecil Cooper, Paul Molitor and Robin Young. Cooper did it three times and Molitor twice. With one more steal in Sunday's finale, Braun will become the second Brewer to hit 30 homers and steal 20 bases.
"Honestly, I'm just glad I could get five innings and let the game be close when I left," Villanueva said.
Trevor Hoffman worked the ninth for his 37th save in 40 chances.
Pujols tied the major league single-season record with his 184th assist at first base on a flip to reliever Blake Hawksworth that beat pinch-hitter Corey Patterson in the eighth. He matched the mark set by Boston's Bill Buckner in 1985.
Brendan Ryan doubled twice while going 3 for 3 with an RBI, and kept himself alive in a rundown long enough to allow Pujols to get to second on a groundball in fifth. Ryan Ludwick had a two-run single in the first.
The Brewers had two hits and two walks against St. Louis closer Ryan Franklin but didn't score, after Craig Counsell was caught stealing on Braun's strikeout and Prince Fielder was out at the plate on Mike Cameron's third hit of the day.
|Ryan Braun reaches the 200-hit plateau for the first time in his young career with this home run. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
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|Alcides Escobar, SS||4||0||0||0||1||0||0||.298|
|Craig Counsell, 2B||3||2||2||0||2||0||2||.285|
|Ryan Braun, LF||5||1||2||2||0||2||2||.319|
|Prince Fielder, 1B||3||0||1||0||2||0||1||.297|
|Casey McGehee, 3B||5||0||1||0||0||1||4||.299|
|Mike Cameron, CF||5||1||3||0||0||2||5||.252|
|Jody Gerut, RF||4||1||1||0||0||0||4||.231|
|Mike Rivera, C||4||0||1||0||0||1||0||.228|
|Carlos Villanueva, P||2||0||0||0||0||1||0||.091|
|a- Mat Gamel, PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||3||.232|
|David Weathers, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Claudio Vargas, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|b- Corey Patterson, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.107|
|Todd Coffey, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Trevor Hoffman, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a-struck out for Villanueva in the 6th|
|b-grounded out for Vargas in the 8th|
|HR - Ryan Braun (32, Lohse)|
|RBI - Ryan Braun 2 (113)|
|CS - Alcides Escobar (2, 2nd base by Hawksworth/LaRue), Craig Counsell (4, 2nd base by Franklin/Pagnozzi)|
|Team LOB - 10|
|DP - McGehee-Counsell-Fielder, Escobar-Counsell-Fielder|
|E - Alcides Escobar (6, Misplayed grounder), Casey McGehee (15, Misplayed grounder)|
|Carlos Villanueva (W,4-10)||5||5||4||4||3||4||0||5.34|
|David Weathers (H,21)||1||2||0||0||0||0||0||3.92|
|Claudio Vargas (H,11)||1||1||0||0||0||0||0||1.74|
|Todd Coffey (H,27)||1||1||0||0||0||0||0||2.90|
|Trevor Hoffman (S,37)||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||1.70|
|IBB - Holliday by Carlos Villanueva|
|Pitches-Strikes - Carlos Villanueva 87-48, David Weathers 19-12, Claudio Vargas 17-9, Todd Coffey 7-6, Trevor Hoffman 9-5|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Carlos Villanueva 6-6, David Weathers 2-0, Claudio Vargas 2-1, Todd Coffey 2-0, Trevor Hoffman 1-1|
|Batters Faced - Carlos Villanueva 24, David Weathers 4, Claudio Vargas 4, Todd Coffey 3, Trevor Hoffman 3|
|St. Louis Cardinals|
|Julio Lugo, 2B||4||2||1||0||1||0||1||.278|
|Brendan Ryan, SS||3||2||3||1||0||0||0||.296|
|a- Colby Rasmus, PH-CF||2||0||0||0||0||0||0||.253|
|Albert Pujols, 1B||4||0||0||0||0||0||2||.329|
|Matt Holliday, LF||2||0||1||1||2||0||0||.313|
|Ryan Ludwick, RF||4||0||1||2||0||0||1||.267|
|Tyler Greene, SS||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.222|
|Rick Ankiel, CF-RF||4||0||0||0||0||3||5||.231|
|Mark DeRosa, 3B||4||0||2||0||0||1||2||.252|
|Jason LaRue, C||3||0||0||0||0||0||1||.245|
|b- Joe Thurston, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||1||.225|
|Matt Pagnozzi, C||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Kyle Lohse, P||2||0||0||0||0||0||0||.216|
|c- David Freese, PH||1||0||1||0||0||0||0||.286|
|Blake Hawksworth, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Ryan Franklin, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|d- Troy Glaus, PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||.179|
|a-flied out for Ryan in the 7th|
|b-grounded into a double play for LaRue in the 8th|
|c-singled for Lohse in the 6th|
|d-struck out for Franklin in the 9th|
|2B - Brendan Ryan 2 (19, Villanueva, Villanueva)|
|RBI - Brendan Ryan (37), Matt Holliday (107), Ryan Ludwick 2 (96)|
|CS - Matt Holliday (7, 2nd base by Villanueva/Rivera)|
|Team LOB - 7|
|Outfield Assists - Matt Holliday 1|
|DP - Pagnozzi-Lugo|
|E - Matt Holliday (5, Misplayed grounder), Julio Lugo 2 (11, Misplayed grounder)|
|St. Louis Cardinals|
|Kyle Lohse (L,6-10)||6||8||5||2||1||5||1||4.74|
|Pitches-Strikes - Kyle Lohse 105-71, Blake Hawksworth 32-17, Ryan Franklin 29-15|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Kyle Lohse 10-5, Blake Hawksworth 1-2|
|Batters Faced - Kyle Lohse 29, Blake Hawksworth 8, Ryan Franklin 5|
|Attendance - 43977|
|Game Time - 3:17|
|Temperature - 55|
|Umpires - Home - Bill Welke, First Base - James Hoye, Second Base - Jim Wolf, Third Base - Tim Welke|