Brewers' win in extras took shape in key 8th

Nieuwenhuis' tying groundout helped set stage for eventual rally in 13th

Brewers' win in extras took shape in key 8th

ATLANTA -- There's no sport that's more stat-driven than baseball and that can lead to all kinds of number craziness.

The Brewers' 3-2 win in 13 innings over the Braves on Wednesday night at Turner Field certainly fit the crazy quotient. The eighth inning alone will suffice to explain.

The Brewers came to bat in the eighth trailing, 2-1. Certainly not an insurmountable deficit, but the numbers weren't in their favor. The Braves were 11-1 when leading after seven innings, while the Brewers were 1-22 when trailing with six outs to go.

That's not a lot to hang your hat on and the Brewers weren't making much happen.

"There weren't many rallies going on for us," manager Craig Counsell said. "[Braves interim manager Brian Snikter] matched up with his relievers pretty aggressively."

Still, the inning offered promise, as the Nos. three through five hitters were due up. That meant Ryan Braun would lead off. He was 2-for-2 with a walk, extending his on-base streak to 27 consecutive games, before striking out for the first time in the series.

That brought up the heart of the order, Jonathan Lucroy, Chris Carter and Kirk Nieuwenhuis. They had been quiet in the series, going a combined 1-for-19 with 11 strikeouts.

Lucroy, 0-for-7 with four strikeouts to that point, singled on a 1-1 pitch from Bud Norris into center field to put the potential tying run on. Carter, who was 0-for-8 with seven K's, went the other way on another 1-1 offering, roping it off the right-field wall for a double to put runners on second and third. Nieuwenhuis was 1-for-4 with three strikeouts in the series having put only two balls in play in his previous seven plate appearances.

He chose a good time for his third. Facing hard-throwing lefty Ian Krol, Nieuwenhuis hit a hard grounder to second on a 2-2 pitch. Gordon Beckham made the play, but Lucroy scored to tie it at 2.

"Nieuwy did the job against the lefty putting the ball in play," Counsell said. "Obviously, Chris' double was huge, but Nieuwy putting the ball in play there against the lefty was just as big."

Being back in the game and off the schnied was a great feeling for Lucroy.

"Obviously it was big to finally get a hit right there," he said. "We were able to hit some mistakes. Chris really put a charge into the ball hit to right field and I was able to go to third on it. Then situational hitting with Kirk, he got the job done. It enabled us to play some more game and we were able to come through at the end."

The bullpens took over from there, but having defied the long odds, the Brewers were comfortable again and did something they've done a lot recently -- win a close game. Wednesday night was their 11th straight game decided by two runs or fewer, and they are 6-5 in those games.

Villar's RBI single

By scoring the go-ahead run in the 13th, aided by Keon Broxton's first Major League hit on a bunt that was meant to be a sacrifice, the Brewers did something they hadn't done a lot of in 2016, win in extra innings. The victory evened their extra-innings record at 2-2, while the Braves dropped to 2-7.

Coincidentally, the Brewers' only other game where they've come back to win when trailing after seven was their only other win in extra innings, a 13-7 victory in 10 innings against the Reds on May 7 at Great American Ball Park.

"It's a team win," Counsell said. "Everybody contributed, for sure."

Jon Cooper is a contributor to based in Atlanta. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.