Brewers blast off, claim winning record in 2012

Brewers blast off, claim winning record in 2012

Brewers blast off, claim winning record in 2012
MILWAUKEE -- They didn't make it back to the postseason, but at least the Brewers will get to sit on a winning record all winter.

Carlos Gomez, Rickie Weeks and Jonathan Lucroy all homered, Shaun Marcum finished his season with a win and the Brewers beat the Padres, 5-3, at Miller Park on Monday for their 82nd victory. Topping the .500 mark was not the Brewers' goal going into the season -- not after they won 96 times last year and took the National League Central. But considering they were 12 games under .500 after 120 games, it would have to do.

"From where we were," Ryan Braun said, "that means something."

They flirted with the NL's second Wild Card before being formally eliminated on Sunday against the Astros. Principal owner Mark Attanasio and manager Ron Roenicke each addressed the team on Monday afternoon and told players they were proud of the team's late-season surge.

The winning season is the Brewers' second in a row, their fourth in the past six years and the 13th in a franchise history that dates to 1969.

"To come out with a winning season is definitely a positive for us," Lucroy said. "Obviously, we wanted to be in the playoffs, but that didn't work out. But you can't say we didn't try or it was for lack of effort. We gave it everything we had, and we're going to finish up strong here."

Personal milestones are at stake in the final two games, most notably for Braun, who is trying to pass the Padres' Chase Headley for the NL RBI crown. Neither player drove home a run on Monday, so Headley, who struck out against John Axford to end the game, maintained his lead, 113 to 112.

The Brewers' offense came from elsewhere against Padres left-hander Clayton Richard. Aramis Ramirez followed Braun's double with an RBI single in the first inning, Gomez hit a two-out solo homer in the fourth, Weeks hit a two-run homer in the fifth and Lucroy led off the sixth with another blast.

Weeks' homer was the Brewers' 200th this season, marking the fifth time in franchise history they reached that mark, and the first since 2007, when Prince Fielder accounted for 50.

"This is a good place to hit them," Lucroy said.

That power show benefited Marcum, a pending free agent who walked four batters and surrendered six hits but limited the Padres to two runs over six innings. It was Marcum's third consecutive quality start, and his second straight victory. 

He finished an injury-interrupted season with a 6-4 record and a 3.70 ERA in 21 starts.

"I don't think he pitched as well as he did starting against the Reds, but he threw good enough to hold the other team down and give us a chance to win," Lucroy said. "He made good pitches when he had to."

Continuing his recent policy, Marcum departed without talking to local reporters.

He pitched with a 1-0 lead until the third inning, when Richard became the second opposing pitcher in as many days to hit his first career home run at the Brewers' expense. The other run against Marcum scored in the sixth inning, when Will Venable doubled and Jesus Guzman followed with a single.

Between those scores, Marcum avoided damage. He walked three batters after the Richards homer but stranded all three with a Yonder Alonso lineout. In the fourth inning, Marcum stranded a runner at third base. In the fifth, he left a runner at second.

"We had him [on the ropes] a couple of times," Padres manager Bud Black said. "We had the bases loaded in the third and Alonso hit the ball right on the nose. We stressed him, but he hung in there."

Marcum allowed only five earned runs in 18 innings over his final three starts. His Sept. 26 win over the Reds was particularly big, because it kept the Brewers alive in their postseason chase.

"Last game was maybe a little sharper than today, but both of them were good," Roenicke said. "He mixed speeds well, location was good, and he battles. He knows how to get guys out. ...

"Shaun knows how to pitch, it's just a question of keeping him healthy. And he needs to be healthy, because he relies on life on his stuff and command."

Jim Henderson allowed a run in the seventh inning, but Francisco Rodriguez pitched a scoreless eighth and Axford logged his 34th save in the ninth, a big bounce-back from a blown save in Cincinnati on Thursday that essentially ended the Brewers' long-shot bid for the playoffs.

Headley represented the tying run when Axford struck him out with a high fastball.

"[A winning record] is not a consolation from where we thought we could be, but it's a consolation for where we were," Axford said. "We didn't give up. We just kept fighting. Having a winning record this year is not something a lot of fans thought we would have. In the clubhouse, we knew we were better."

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.