The Milwaukee Brewers took care of their business Friday night.
Unfortunately for the Brewers, the Colorado Rockies took care of theirs as well.
The Brewers used a strong pitching performance by Chase Anderson and Stephen Vogt’s three runs batted in to handle the St. Louis Cardinals, 5-3, at Busch Stadium. At the same time, the Rockies were pounding the Dodgers at Coors Field, 9-1.
With that victory, Colorado reduced its magic number for clinching the second National League wild-card berth to one game, putting the Brewers on the brink of elimination. To force a one-game showdown Monday night in Denver, the Brewers would have to win their last two games and have the Rockies drop their last two.
Anderson delivered the pitching performance the Brewers needed during a stretch when they have relied heavily on the bullpen. He went seven innings, allowing only three hits, with a walk and five strikeouts.
In 25 starts – he missed five weeks with an oblique strain – Anderson went 12-4 with a 2.74 earned run average. Dating to July 25 of last season, he is 17-5 with a 2.69 ERA.
The Brewers struck for a run in the second inning off right-hander John Gant, making his first appearance against them. Travis Shaw legged out an infield hit, Domingo Santana punched an opposite-field single to right and Vogt blooped a hit down the left-field line to make it 1-0.
\The chance for a bigger rally fizzled when Orlando Arcia grounded into a double play, followed by Brett Phillips’ bouncer to second.
Vogt boosted the lead to 2-0 with one swing of the bat in the fourth. With two down, he sent a drive out to right for his eighth homer with the Brewers and 12th overall for the season.
St. Louis quickly got that run back in the bottom of the inning. With one down, Paul DeJong hammered a 2-0 fastball from Anderson out to left-center for the 25th homer of his rookie season.
Vogt delivered his third RBI of the game after Shaw’s leadoff walk and Santana’s double to left sent Gant from the game in the sixth. Vogt’s grounder to second delivered Shaw and Santana made it 4-1 when he raced home on the contact play, beating DeJong’s throw on Arcia’s grounder to short.
Anderson cruised after DeJong’s homer in the fourth. DeJong singled to open the St. Louis seventh, but second baseman Neil Walker speared Jose Martinez’s sharp grounder and started a marvelous double play to keep his pitcher in control.
Anderson exited after walking Magneuris Sierra to open the eighth inning. Jeremy Jeffress took over and induced a double-play grounder from Aledmys Diaz, and the Brewers stayed in command.
Corey Knebel came on in the ninth even though it was not a save opportunity. He surrendered a long two-run homer to Jose Martinez with two down but that was it.
BEHIND THE BOX SCORE
* The Cardinals were eliminated from the wild-card race with a 2-1, 11-inning loss to the Cubs on Thursday night and have some banged-up players unavailable for duty, including catcher Yadier Molina (possible concussion). But Brewers manager Craig Counsell didn’t see that changing anything on the field.
“It doesn’t change anything from our perspective,” he said. “The other team gives you a lineup; you’re aware of some players who aren’t playing. But, other than that, it doesn’t change what we do.”
*First baseman Eric Thames was back in the lineup after sitting out Thursday with a bruised right foot, the result of fouling a pitch off it the previous evening. Thames could barely walk afterward but said he was determined to play in all three games against the Cardinals if they meant something.
* In general, the final home stand was rough on the Brewers’ Nos. 3, 4 and 4 hitters –Ryan Braun (.207, 2 RBI), Travis Shaw (.207, 1 HR, 3 RBI) and Domingo Santana (.126, 2 HRs, 3 RBI). Shaw did have the walk-off, 10th-inning homer in the third game against the Cubs, preventing a sweep, but was still looking for that elusive 100th RBI to reach his preseason goal.
“It’s easy to point to that,” Counsell said. “Travis is trying to get hits. He’s been in there every day this month. He’s at the point of the season where you expect guys to be worn down.”
This is why you don’t want to need help at the end of the season to get in the playoffs. The Dodgers, who have nothing on the line but the best overall record in the majors, gave little resistance against the Rockies, falling behind by five runs early. The Brewers could sweep the Cardinals and it might not matter.
This year: 85-75 (46-38 home; 39-37 away)
Last year: 71-89
Saturday: Brewers at Cardinals, 3:15 p.m. Milwaukee RHP Junior Guerra (1-4, 4.90) vs. St. Louis RHP Like Weaver (7-2, 3.23). TV: FS1. Radio: AM-620.