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PHI@MIL: Braun's single to right plates Morgan

MILWAUKEE -- Down to their final seven outs, the Brewers finally proved they are not the Phillies' punching bags.

Corey Hart, Nyjer Morgan and Ryan Braun delivered successive two-out hits in the seventh inning, Braun's a go-ahead single that gave the Brewers a 3-2 win Sunday at sold-out Miller Park to avert what would have been a demoralizing four-game sweep.

Considering these teams could meet again in the postseason, this was one win the Brewers wanted to win. It might have been one they needed to win.

"I don't want to get to where we think where it is a 'must-win' game, but it was huge, it was a big game to win," manager Ron Roenicke said. "More, because it gets us in that right frame of mind. Hopefully we go on a roll again and start playing really good baseball."

Yovani Gallardo (16-10) tied a career high with 12 strikeouts in seven innings of what Roenicke called the right-hander's best start of the season, and, for the first time in six days, the Brewers knocked a game off their magic number to clinch the NL Central.

The Brewers maintained a six-game lead over the Cardinals, who won their fifth straight game Sunday. Milwaukee's magic number fell to 10, with 14 games remaining.

Braun is hoping to see the Phillies again in October.

"They're definitely going to be there, so we hope we get an opportunity to play against them again," he said. "They're a good team, and it starts with their phenomenal starting pitching. It was nice to go out there and at least get one win off them today. We played against them earlier in the year in Philly and took the series from them there, so we're not going to lack confidence by any means. We understand it's going to be a challenge."

The Phillies have presented every team they have faced this season with a stiff challenge. Even with Sunday's loss, they have 94 wins and are coming off a successful week against the postseason-hungry Braves and Brewers. Philadelphia won six of those seven games.

"Yeah, but I think when playoff time rolls around, you throw all of this out the door," Phillies center fielder Shane Victorino said. "Arguably, you could have said we were the best team going into the postseason last year, everyone expected us to be there and we didn't get there. San Fran went on and won the World Series.

"So it's a test, but I don't think it's going to dictate what happens in October. ... This series, taking three out of four, it's nice. But it's not what's going to happen down the road. It's a totally different series then."

For six innings Sunday, it looked like another day of missed opportunities for Milwaukee, which took an early 1-0 lead against Phillies rookie Vance Worley (11-2), but stranded a runner at third in four of the first five innings. The most egregious of those misses came in the fifth, when Gallardo broke from third base on Morgan's line drive to right field, instead of remaining at the bag to tag up. When Braun followed with an inning-ending flyout to deep right field, Gallardo was still stuck at third.

It got worse for Gallardo in the sixth, when he surrendered solo home runs to Victorino and Ryan Howard, leaving Milwaukee in a 2-1 hole. In three September starts spanning 17 2/3 innings, Gallardo has surrendered a whopping eight home runs.

But the Brewers broke through against Worley in the seventh, when Hart delivered a two-out double and Morgan followed with another to tie the game at 2. Up next was Braun, who drove one pitch to right field that cleared the fence only inches from the foul pole. Three pitches later, Braun poked a single to right that scored Morgan with the go-ahead run.

"Early in the game, we had chances, I definitely had chances, and didn't get hits," Braun said. "It was nice for all of us to come through there in that seventh inning."

How close was his foul ball to a home run?

"Really close," Braun said. "It seems like when things are going well, that ball goes off the foul pole and it's a two-run homer. The way things have been going for us the last week or so, it figured it went foul."

It made a winner of Gallardo, who allowed only one other hit, a Howard single leading off the second, in seven innings. He walked only one and struck out 12 for the fourth time in his career and the first since last August.

"We had to have a good ballgame pitched, and he was great," Roenicke said.

Relievers Francisco Rodriguez and John Axford each stranded a pair of runners on base, with Axford earning his 42nd save. Axford's converted 39 consecutive save chances, and is two saves shy of tying Francisco Cordero's franchise record.

The Brewers snapped their six-game home losing streak.

"When you're at this point of the season, every win is important," Braun said. "But we realize we haven't played too well lately and we're playing against a tough team, so it was a very important game for us." Comments