Now that the Milwaukee Brewers have snapped their decades-long postseason road losing streak, they have a chance to regain the advantage in their NL championship series against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Looking to build on their first playoff road win in 29 years, the Brewers could face a tougher challenge in Friday night’s Game 5 at Busch Stadium than they did the last time they faced Jaime Garcia(notes).
After dropping the last two games, Milwaukee evened the best-of-seven series by snapping an eight-game road playoff skid with a 4-2 win in Game 4 on Thursday to guarantee the NLCS will return to Miller Park. The Brewers’ previous postseason road victory also came in St. Louis in Game 1 of the 1982 World Series.
Before Milwaukee can focus on returning home, it will try to win consecutive postseason road games for the first time since taking Games 3 and 4 at Yankee Stadium of the AL divisional series during the strike-shortened 1981 season.
“I still think that we can play good ball on the road,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. “Hopefully we’ll (go back home) with a lead, but if not, we have got two games there.”
After the Brewers and Cardinals split their 18 regular season meetings, it’s not surprising they’ve turned the NLCS into a best-of-three.
“I think it’s classic,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. “It comes down to that day, who makes the pitch.”
The Brewers should have plenty of confidence after they rallied from a 2-0 deficit by scoring all their runs from the fourth through sixth innings. Randy Wolf(notes) threw seven solid frames while Braun, Nyjer Morgan(notes) and Jerry Hairston Jr.(notes) each had two hits.
Braun is 7 for 16 with a five RBIs in the series and batting .471 (16 for 34) with nine RBIs in the postseason.
He’s hit .280 (7 for 25) with two homers - including a two-run shot in Game 1 - versus Garcia (0-2, 7.36 ERA), who has allowed six runs - two earned - over 28 innings while going 2-1 in four career home starts versus Milwaukee.
Neither of those earned runs have come over the last 25 innings he’s pitched against the Brewers at home. Including his Game 3 loss to Philadelphia in the division series, Garcia is 9-5 with a 2.63 ERA in 16 home starts in 2011. The left-hander is 4-4 with a 4.97 ERA in 18 on the road during the regular season and playoffs.
“Obviously I like pitching at home,” Garcia said. “But other than that, to me it’s the same. I just try to see it as any other game and then prepare yourself for that specific game.”
Garcia, however, allowed six runs and walked three in four innings of a 9-6 loss at Milwaukee in Game 1 on Sunday.
He may need to eat up some innings after Kyle Lohse(notes) became the fourth straight Cardinals starter to fail to get past the fifth inning. St. Louis’ rotation has a 7.13 ERA in the series, while its relievers have posted a 2.08 ERA over 17 1-3 innings.
Scheduled Brewers starter Zack Greinke(notes) (1-0, 8.18) was tagged for six runs in six innings in Game 1 but still earned the victory over Garcia. The right-hander yielded four runs on three homers in five innings of a 9-4 win over Arizona in Game 2 of the division series.
“The first two games I’ve given up some runs but I’ve been really happy with how I’ve pitched,” said Greinke, who makes his first postseason road start Friday. “I’m just going to do what I can do.”
Overall, Greinke is 12-0 with a 3.65 ERA in 17 starts at home this season, but 5-6 with a 4.70 ERA away from Miller Park.
“Besides (games against) the Yankees (June 28) and Cubs (June 16), I felt like I’ve pitched just as good everywhere,” Greinke said. “Those two games I haven’t pitched like I should pitch and it wasn’t because of being on the road.”
He allowed two runs in seven innings of a 2-0 loss at St. Louis on Sept. 7.
Holliday is 5 for 13 with three RBIs in this series.