Playoff-bound Brewers sweep Reds 5-3, close in on Cardinals


Milwaukee Brewers’ Orlando Arcia, right, celebrates in the dugout after scoring on an RBI double by Ben Gamel off Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Luis Castillo in the fourth inning of a baseball game, Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

By JOE KAY AP Sports Writer
CINCINNATI (AP) — Orlando Arcia doubled with the bases loaded, and the Milwaukee Brewers shook off the fizz from their playoffs-clinching celebration to close on the NL Central lead Thursday, beating the Cincinnati Reds 5-3 for their seventh straight victory.

The Brewers earned at least a wild card with a 9-2 win on Wednesday night, dousing each other with champagne and beer in the clubhouse afterward. Little more than 12 hours after the empty bottles and cans were cleaned away by clubhouse attendants, Milwaukee focused on an even bigger prize.

Milwaukee moved within one game of the idle Cardinals for the NL Central lead heading into the final weekend, the same status as a year ago when they also were a game out with three to play. They caught the Cubs and then beat them at Wrigley Field in a one-game tiebreaker for the division title.

Milwaukee concludes with three games in Colorado against the team it swept in the playoffs before losing to the Dodgers in the NL Championship Series. The Cardinals host the Cubs.

Just like last year, they’ve used a sizzling September in their race toward the top. Despite losing 2018 NL MVP Christian Yelich to a broken kneecap, the Brewers have won 18 of 20 and have the best September record in the majors at 20-4. Their seven-game winning streak matches their longest this season.

The Reds’ focus was on broadcaster Marty Brennaman’s final game after 46 seasons. The mayor declared Marty Brennaman Day during pregame festivities, and the 77-year-old broadcaster headed to the booth one last time before retirement.

Fans hoped to hear his “this one belongs to the Reds” call after a victory, but not even Cincinnati’s ace could make it happen. Luis Castillo (15-8) walked the bases loaded in the fourth and gave up Arcia’s bases-clearing double off the glove of left fielder Josh VanMeter to clear the bases. Ben Gamel followed with another double for a 4-1 lead.

Chase Anderson (8-4) allowed Aristides Aquino’s solo homer in five innings, then turned it over to a bullpen that’s the team’s strength. Josh Hader escaped a bases-loaded threat in the eighth and got the last four outs for his 37th save in 43 chances.

Brennaman’s final game drew 27,774 fans and boosted Cincinnati’s home attendance to 1,775,396, a slight increase over last season. The Reds drew 1,629,356 last year, their lowest since 1984.

Brewers: Eric Thames felt hamstring discomfort after running out a grounder in the second inning and left the game.

Reds: Eugenio Suárez got a day out of the lineup after hitting his 49th homer Wednesday night. He pinch hit in the eighth and was walked intentionally.

Brewers: Head to Colorado with Zach Davies (10-7) facing Antonio Senzalela (10-11) in the opener.

Reds: Head to Pittsburgh, where they’ve dropped 10 straight. Anthony DeSclafani (9-9) faces left-hander Steven Brault (4-6).

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