MILWAUKEE -- Ryan Braun doesn't want to wonder what could have been if the Brewers played the whole season the way they played against the Reds this week.
After Braun's go-ahead double in the eighth inning gave Milwaukee a 3-2 win and completed a three-game sweep over division-leading Cincinnati on Wednesday, the slugger said his team's focus was on playing like that more often in the future, rather than thinking about the past.That's because despite being 14 1/2 games back in the National League Central with 52 to play, Braun and the Crew have not lost hope. "I don't know if anybody's ever gone 50-0," Braun said. "But why not be the first? Why not, who knows? You never know, so we'll just continue to work hard [and] continue to play hard." Coming off three straight losses to the Cardinals, the Brewers handed the Reds their first sweep since June. Meanwhile, Cincinnati had won 15 of 17 before Milwaukee rocked Bronson Arroyo on Monday, received a gem from Mike Fiers on Tuesday and squeaked past Mat Latos on Wednesday. Latos, who entered the game with a 10-3 record and a 3.94 ERA, provided the biggest challenge for the Brewers, holding them scoreless on just two hits through five-plus innings. But in the top of the sixth, Carlos Gomez finally put Milwaukee on the board with a solo shot to deep center field. The long ball cut the Reds' lead to 2-1, an advantage they gained on Dioner Navarro's homer off Brewers starter Randy Wolf in the top of the third. The home run pitch, which manager Ron Roenicke said was the first changeup of the game for Wolf, was one of the few mistakes the left-hander made in his six innings of work. "I don't think it was my first one," Wolf said. "It was my first really awful one, that's for sure. It's funny, I was just telling guys during the game, I feel like every time I make a bad changeup, it's not a hit -- it's a homer every time." Wolf had little trouble recovering, though, as he went on to pitch three scoreless innings, including escaping a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the top of the sixth. His strong performance then opened the door for the Milwaukee offense, which delivered in the bottom of the eighth after struggling for much of the game. Norichika Aoki started a two-out rally by beating out the throw on a dribbler for an infield single. And after advancing to third on a steal and a throwing error, Aoki tied the game on a Gomez bloop single in the next at-bat. It was the second big hit of the game for Gomez, who displayed the characteristics that sometimes hold him back, along with the abilities that make him one of the Brewers' most exciting young players. After swinging at the first offering in his first two plate appearances -- a groundout and a fielder's choice -- the 26-year-old center fielder was patient in his next two at-bats, when he hit the homer and drove in the game-tying run.
Roenicke said Gomez has the potential to be "scary" for opposing teams, but before Wednesday's game, the second-year skipper said it all depends on his plate discipline."We know he can play good defense," Roenicke said of Gomez. "If he gets on base, he's going to steal. It really comes down to the at-bats. Everything else is good with his game. When he's hitting well, he's great to have in the lineup." Gomez's ability as a baserunner proved vital on Wednesday, as his steal of second base allowed him to score easily on Braun's game-winning double, which snapped an 0-for-18 slump for the reigning NL MVP Award winner. "There aren't too many better ways [to break out of a slump] than to help your team win a game," Braun said. "Certainly not the first time I've struggled, and it won't be the last, but it's never enjoyable when you go through something like that. It's always nice to get a hit. It's that much more enjoyable when it happens in a victory in a big situation." With Wolf out of the game, the Brewers received a solid effort from the bullpen for the second straight game, as Jose Veras and John Axford handled the seventh and eighth innings before rookie Jim Henderson earned his second save in as many days. Wednesday marked just the second time Milwaukee has won this season when trailing after seven innings, and Roenicke said it has been good to watch his team play to its potential. "When we do play like that, we can beat any team," Roenicke said. "As good as the Reds have been, when we play good ball, we can beat the Reds. We have to carry that out. No matter where we finish out, we still need to play like that [and] have the confidence to play like that."
Jeremy Warnemuende is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.