Corbin Burnes pitched seven wonderful innings to win his ninth consecutive decision and the Milwaukee Brewers moved to the brink of clinching the NL Central title with a 2-1 triumph over the New York Mets on Saturday night.
The Brewers, already assured a fourth consecutive playoff berth, can wrap up the division crown Sunday with a victory at home in the series finale versus the Mets or a Cardinals loss to the Cubs in Chicago.
Milwaukee won its second straight following a five-game skid, including a four-game sweep at home by the second-place Cardinals, who have won a team-record 15 in a row.
“I think it’s just better for us to go out and get three wins and do it ourselves rather than let the Cardinals fall and giving it to us,” Burnes said. “I think it’s good for us to go out and play good baseball.”
New York (73-81) has lost 12 of 15 and was eliminated from playoff contention earlier in the day when Philadelphia defeat Pittsburgh.
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“I think it’s pretty clear we didn’t swing the bats well enough,” outfielder Michael Conforto said when asked to assess the season.
Burnes (11-4) scattered five hits, struck out nine and walked one. Brad Boxberger, who had allowed 10 earned runs in his previous 5 1/3 innings, tossed a scoreless eighth, and Josh Hader worked the ninth for his 34th save in 35 opportunities.
“Corbin’s having an incredible season, a Cy Young-worthy season, there’s no question about it,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell stated. “What he’s done the last two months for us is nothing short of amazing.
He’s been amazing all year, but it feels like he’s even picked it up a little bit as we kind of go down the stretch. That’s what the great ones do and he’s a great one right now. He’s pitching like it.”
Eduardo Escobar drove in both runs for Milwaukee with a third-inning single off Rich Hill (6-8), who allowed just two hits in five innings.
Willy Adames and Avisaíl García drew consecutive one-out walks in the third. Christian Yelich’s groundout advanced the runners and Escobar followed with a single to left.
Hill has allowed three earned runs or fewer in eight consecutive starts since Aug. 16, but is winless in 12 games, including 11 starts, since being acquired from Tampa Bay in July.
The Mets got one run back in the fourth when Conforto doubled with two outs and scored on Javier Baez’s single.
Despite the Cardinals’ winning streak, they are still seven games behind Milwaukee, which led the division by 14 games on Sept. 12.
“That tells you what we did for the course of 5 1/2 months vs. the last two weeks,” Burnes said. “We played good baseball most of the year. Obviously we had a little skid there last week, but probably good timing for that to happen, to kind of shake us all loose, wake us up a little bit and get us going. We’re in a good spot.”
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