The Milwaukee Brewers made a valiant run over the last month and a half to compete for a playoff spot, but they ultimately fell short of returning to the postseason.
One day after having those hopes dashed, Milwaukee begins its final series of the season when it hosts the San Diego Padres on Monday night.
The Brewers have dropped six of their last nine games, including Sunday's 7-0 loss to Houston that officially eliminated them from playoff contention. Despite being 12 games under .500 on Aug. 19, Milwaukee (81-78) guaranteed at least a .500 season by going 27-12 since while becoming part of the postseason discussion with its surge.
"It was amazing, the run that we went on to get into contention," said reigning NL MVP Ryan Braun , who has a career-high and NL-best 41 homers. "I think that we're all proud of that. Ultimately, we're disappointed we didn't end up back in the postseason, but it certainly wasn't for a lack of effort."
The defending Central champion Brewers were shut out Sunday for the first time since Aug. 25 and mustered only four hits."For us to come out and get shut out, that was probably the last thing that I thought would happen," manager Ron Roenicke said. "It's hard right now. To play as well as we did to get back in it, this was a very disappointing series."
Milwaukee looks to begin its final series on a positive note with help from Shaun Marcum , who is coming off his first victory since beating San Diego on June 8.
Marcum (6-4, 3.74 ERA) allowed one run and struck out seven in six innings of Wednesday's 8-1 win at Cincinnati after going 0-1 with a 4.58 ERA over his previous seven outings.
He missed more than two months in that stretch with right elbow tightness.
The right-hander is 3-0 with a 3.51 ERA in four career starts versus the Padres, who blew a three-run lead over the final two innings of Sunday's 7-5 loss to San Francisco.
San Diego (75-84) led 5-2 heading into the eighth, but the Giants scored twice that inning and three times in the final frame to hand the Padres their fourth loss in five games.
"Obviously, you would've liked to win that one today and go out (at home) on a high note," said Chase Headley , who hit his 31st homer. "But, that's going to happen. It's part of it."
Headley is hitting .409 in six games against the Brewers this season for San Diego, which will send Clayton Richard to the mound as he seeks a new career high for victories.
Richard (14-13, 3.91), though, didn't fare well in his previous attempt, giving up six runs and a season worst-tying 10 hits in 3 2-3 innings of Wednesday's 8-2 loss to the Dodgers.
The left-hander went 5-0 with a 3.38 ERA in his previous six starts.
"That was a tough one," Richard told the team's official website. "You hate putting your team in that type of hole. It was a rough day."
Richard is 2-1 with a 4.15 ERA in five lifetime starts versus the Brewers, who have won seven of the last 10 home meetings with the Padres.
|San Diego Padres|
|September 20, 2012||Carlos Quentin||Day-to-Day||Sore right knee|
|September 11, 2012||Carlos Quentin||Day-to-Day||Sore right knee|
|August 23, 2012||Jason Marquis||15-Day DL||Fractured left wrist|
|August 17, 2012||Nick Hundley||Day-to-Day||Bruised right knee|
|August 16, 2012||Nick Hundley||60-Day DL||Bruised right knee|
|August 11, 2012||Huston Street||15-Day DL||Strained left calf|
|September 29, 2012||Wily Peralta||Day-to-Day||Sore right bicep|
|September 12, 2012||Carlos Gomez||Day-to-Day||Left game - right quad contusion|
|September 09, 2012||Corey Hart||Day-to-Day||Left game - sprained left ankle|
|September 09, 2012||Ryan Braun||Day-to-Day||Left game - sore right wrist|
|July 29, 2012||Aramis Ramirez||Day-to-Day||Sore left wrist|
|July 17, 2012||Ryan Braun||Day-to-Day||Right thigh strain|
MILWAUKEE (AP) -- When the Milwaukee Brewers were 12 games under .500 on Aug. 19, very few fans expected the team would rebound, let alone have a winning season and be in contention for the NL playoffs down to the last few days.
But with the Brewers' 5-3 win Monday over the San Diego Padres , the Brewers clinched a winning season for the second straight year. The Brewers won 28 of the last 40 to turn the season around and make a run at an NL wild card before being officially eliminated after a loss Sunday.
"I don't think anyone thought we would have a winning season, considering where we were in August," said catcher Jonathan Lucroy , who hit a home run Monday. "We wanted to be in the playoffs, but we never gave up this year. I think we really showed the character of the team."
Brewers closer John Axford struck out the side in the ninth inning Monday to get his 34 save in 43 chances. It was a nice bounce back for Axford, who struggled this season blowing nine saves, including one Thursday in Cincinnati when the team was still battling for the wild card.
"This shows that perserverance pays off," he said. "We never gave up despite our record in August. I think we have a very good team and am confident we can rebound next season."
Shaun Marcum (7-4) gave up two runs and six hits in six innings. Marcum was likely making his last start for the Brewers as the team is not expected to re-sign the veteran pitcher. It was his second straight victory after not winning a game since June 8 as he spent two months on the disabled list with right elbow tightness before being activated Aug. 25.
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said Marcum was good enough to get the win.
"He mixed speeds well and really battled," Roenicke said. "We always knew Shaun knew how to pitch. It is just a question of keeping him healthy."
Rickie Weeks and Carlos Gomez added home runs for the Brewers, who pounded out 10 hits.
Clayton Richard (14-14) gave up five runs and 10 hits in seven innings for his second straight loss after winning five straight decisions.
Richard said he was not executing his pitches.
"They jumped on everything I didn't execute," he said.
The Brewers grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first. With two outs, Ryan Braun lined a double down the right-field line and scored on Aramis Ramirez 's RBI single.
Richard's first career home run with one out in the third inning tied the score at 1-1 for the Padres. Marcum then walked three of the next four batters, but got Yonder Alonso to fly out to end the inning.
"I'll take a win over a homer every time," Richard said. "But it's definitely neat to be able to do that (hit a home run). It was just more luck than anything."
Gomez's career-high 19th home run of the season gave the Brewers a 2-1 lead in the fourth inning. Gomez's previous high eight in 2011.
Weeks' two-run home run in the fifth inning boosted Milwaukee's lead to 4-1. It was the Brewers' 200th home run of the season, the second straight season the team has hit that mark and only the fifth time in team history.
Jesse Guzman's RBI single in the sixth inning scored Will Venable for the Padres to cut the lead to 4-2. Venable had doubled down the right field line and then stole third base.
Lucroy's 12th home run of the season in the sixth inning increased the Brewers' lead to 5-2.
San Diego pulled to 5-3 in the seventh inning on Yasman Grandal's RBI single.
NOTES: Padres manager Bud Black said RHP Casey Kelley will not make his scheduled start Tuesday due to general arm and elbow soreness. RHP Anthony Bass (2-7) will start in his place. ... Brewers manager Ron Roenicke had a team meeting before the game to tell his team he was pleased with the way they had played in the last month to get back into the NL wild-card race. ... Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers visited Braun in the clubhouse before the game. The two are close friends and are involved in the ownership of a Milwaukee-area restaurant together.