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Johnny Damon(notes) earned a great double steal and widespread praise last fall after taking an unoccupied third base against Philly in Game 4 of the World Series.

Ryan Braun tried something similar against the Pirates on Wednesday night — and yet all he got was a trip back to the dugout and a ninth straight loss for the Brewers.

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Here's what happened: With the Brewers trailing by two with no outs in the ninth inning and Prince Fielder(notes) down 0-2 at the plate, Braun took off for second.

Fielder swung and missed, but Braun reached second safely and then noticed third base was open because Pittsburgh had put the shift on Fielder. Thinking that Andy LaRoche(notes) was going to throw the ball back to pitcher Octavio Dotel(notes), Braun instinctively broke toward third.

Big mistake: LaRoche immediately whipped around in a motion that reminded the Brewers leftfielder of a certain Keanu Reeves trilogy and tagged Braun for the second out of the inning.  

Here's what Braun said about his mistake, via MLB.com:

"Getting to third base right there wouldn't have done us much good, but I saw an opportunity. [LaRoche] did some Matrix stuff or something, I don't know. He was about to throw the ball back to the pitcher and did a reverse spin. It was a good play by him and a stupid play by me."

If you compare this to Damon's double dash, you realize that there's a very fine line between a "stupid play" and "heads-up" heroics. That said, there were a few key differences.

For one, that World Series game was tied and the Yankees had a little more wiggle room to afford a mistake. The Brewers, meanwhile, were trailing by two and Braun's run wouldn't have tied it. His slip-up effectively crippled Milwaukee's chances of a comeback.

Damon also said he was "100 percent sure" he could make it to third safely — an assessment that was partly based on Pedro Feliz's(notes) foot speed — but Braun's failed retreat back to second shows that he wasn't nearly as certain about his risky maneuver.

He also says that it looked like LaRoche was about to throw the ball back to Dotel, but I don't quite see it. There's a few things a runner has to check off before making a move like that and Braun paid the price for getting sloppy.

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