MILWAUKEE (AP)Corbin Burnes threw six solid innings of four-hit ball, Ryan Braun hit a two-run homer in Milwaukee’s four-run eighth inning and the Brewers beat the Kansas City Royals 5-0 Saturday night.
With the win, Milwaukee moved into a tie with the Cincinnati Reds, one game behind second-place St. Louis in the NL Central. The top two teams in each division qualify for the postseason.
”It’s cliche. It’s simple, but you win games, and you feel pretty good about your chances,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said after his team matched their season-high with three consecutive victories. ”We’ve just got to keep doing it.”
Burnes continues as the best starting pitcher on the Brewers’ staff. He is 4-0 in his last five starts, with 47 strikeouts and six walks in that span. Against the Royals, he struck out nine.
”It’s always nice to play meaningful baseball this late in September,” Burnes said. ”I think we’re still a game out of the postseason or whatever it may be, but just to know that if you win two, three, four in a row – rattle a couple of wins, you’re in the postseason.”
The Royals best scoring chance against Burnes came with two out in the second when they got a runner to third. Burnes caught Ryan O’Hearn looking at a called third strike to get out of the jam.
”That was pretty good stuff today,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said of Burnes. ”Life on the fastball. You can tell he had some deception. He was hiding the ball well. The cutter he was throwing backdoor to lefties, and chasing righties off the plate.”
Braun foiled Matheny’s strategy of issuing an intentional walk to Christian Yelich with two out and a runner already on. Braun followed with his 351st home run. He had left Friday night’s game with low back tightness and was a game-time decision.
Devin Williams retired the side in order in the seventh and eighth, including four strike outs. He has 47 strikeouts in 23 innings of relief.
Drew Rasmussen, who picked up his first major-league win with an inning of relief in Friday night’s 9-5 win, retired the side in order in the ninth to preserve the shutout.
Jacob Nottingham’s two-base hit off Royals reliever Scott Barlow in the eighth tacked on a big insurance run. Orlando Arcia singled and took third on Barlow’s errant pickoff throw.
Kris Bubic (1-6) allowed just a hit and an unearned run in 5 1/3 innings. The 23-year-old left-hander struck out seven, but tied his season-high with four walks, including two in the third that led to the Brewers’ only run.
”His best, his best, yet,” Matheny said of Bubic’s pitching effort. ”That’s just one of those indicators of things to come, where he’s controlling the strike zone with the fastball early on. That was, without question, the best breaking ball he’s had so far.”
Luis Urias walked and scored on a throwing error by second baseman Nicky Lopez. Shortstop Adalberto Mondesi got in the way as Lopez fielded Avisail Garcia’s roller up the middle. Lopez stepped on second, but then threw wildly to first.
”Either one of them make that play, if they communicate to each other,” Matheny said of Mondesi and Lopez’s miscommunication.
BREWERS: Braun left Friday night’s game with lower back tightness after hitting a single in the fourth inning. Braun has battled a lower back issue all season. However, he felt good enough for manager Craig Counsell to pencil him in at DH in Saturday’s game.
POSITIVE COVID-19 TESTS AT BREWERS ALTERNATE SITE
The Brewers had two players and a staff member test positive for the coronavirus at their alternate training site in Appleton, Wisconsin. Milwaukee president of baseball operations David Stearns confirmed the positive results and said they shouldn’t impact the major league team. Teams are using alternate training sites this season to keep reserve players sharp because the minor league season was canceled due to the pandemic. Stearns said the positive tests came Monday and did not name the two players or the staff member. Players must give their permission for their names to be revealed after positive tests.
MURPHY TO MAKE ROAD TRIP
Brewers bench coach Pat Murphy, 61, returned to the club Friday, almost seven weeks after suffering a heart attack during a team workout at Miller Park on Aug. 1. He will travel with the team on its season-ending road trip to Cincinnati and St. Louis.
ROYALS: RHP Brad Keller (4-2, 2.06 ERA) looks to make his eighth start of the season just as solid as his previous outing, a five-hit shutout and an 11-0 win Sept. 13th against Pittsburgh.
BREWERS: RHP Josh Lindblom (1-3, 5.26 ERA) comes off the bereavement list for his ninth start of the season and first against the Royals.
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports