National League Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, September 24th (All times Eastern)
Florida Marlins (71-86) at Milwaukee Brewers (92-65), 7:10 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Florida - Alex Sanabia (0-0, 1.29) Milwaukee - Zack Greinke (15-6, 3.75)
(Sports Network) - Having clinched their first division title since 1982, now the fight begins for the Brewers to gain home-field advantage for the first round of the playoffs.
Ryan Braun's three-run homer in the eighth inning last night broke a tie and provided Milwaukee with a 4-1 win over Florida in the opener of a three-game set. The mammoth shot to center field, combined with Chicago's victory at St. Louis, secured the Brewers the NL Central crown.
The Brewers hadn't been division champions since capturing the AL East in 1982, on the way to a World Series appearance.
"This means a lot," Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder said. "We have a great team, a little way to go. I'm going to enjoy the hell out of this."
With two outs in the ninth inning, fans went ballistic at Miller Park when the scoreboard flashed that the Cubs took a 4-1 lead over the Cardinals in the eighth inning on the strength of Alfonso Soriano's three-run blast.
Moments later, John Axford added to Milwaukee's magical season by fanning Bryan Petersen to notch his 44th save, tying a franchise record held by Francisco Cordero (2007).
"We're not done yet," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "We still have some work to do."
Milwaukee holds a one-game lead on Arizona for the second-best mark in the NL. The Diamondbacks wrapped up the NL West title Friday.
Having a pitcher with great control will increase Milwaukee's chances to go far in the playoffs. Zack Greinke is a perfect example of that type of hurler. The right-hander, who starts tonight for the Brewers, has allowed two earned runs or fewer in 13 of his last 14 starts. He has just 39 walks in 160 2/3 innings this season compared to 191 strikeouts.
Greinke, who is bidding to tie his career-high in victories he set in 2009 with Kansas City, had 10 strikeouts and allowed only two hits and a run in an 8-1 victory at Cincinnati on Sunday. He's 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA in three career games (2 starts) against the Marlins.
Florida right-hander Alex Sanabia aims for his first victory of 2011. He tossed six innings of one-run ball in the Marlins' 2-1 loss in 10 innings at Philadelphia on Sept. 15. Sanabia, who will be making his third appearance (2nd start) of the year, will take on the Brewers for the first time in his career.
Florida's run came in the fourth when Bryan Petersen singled in Gaby Sanchez.
"We had our chances, but couldn't get the big hit. That's been the story of our year," Marlins manager Jack McKeon said.
The Brewers swept a four-game series in Florida from June 3-6 and have won six straight and eight of the last nine meetings.
09/24 10:32:56 ET