Greinke: Division is Brewers’ to lose

As Zack Greinke sees it, the National League Central is the Brewers’ to lose.

A 3-1 win over the Dodgers on Wednesday was Milwaukee’s 19th win in 21 games, following a familiar formula of quality start, one clutch at-bat and spotless relief. It preserved Milwaukee’s seven-game National League Central edge over the Cardinals, who also won Wednesday. The rest of the division sits at least 12 1/2 games back.

“It’s definitely not locked up, but if we continue to play well, it should happen,” Greinke said. “It’s on us, mainly. We have to do as good as we’re doing or close to that, and at least make it as tough as possible for other teams. It is ours to lose I think, as of right now.”

A sellout crowd 42,804 watched Greinke (12-4) supply the quality start, seven innings that boosted his record in home games to 9-0 and dropped his ERA below four for the first time this season, to 3.92. Jerry Hairston Jr. delivered the clutch hit, a two-out, two-run in the sixth inning that overcame another troublingly quiet night for the offense. LaTroy Hawkins and John Axford accounted for the scoreless relief, with Axford tying for the Major League lead with save No. 36.

And the Brewers marched one day closer to extending their season into October.

“They’re, in my opinion, one of the top two teams we’ve faced this year, with Philly,” said Dodgers outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr., who accounted for the visitors’ only run with a seventh-inning homer. “Their offense is doing what they’ve normally done, but they’ve gone out and gotten good pitching. That was their whole objective in the off-season, to strengthen their pitching staff. They’ve got some tough ones.”

The Brewers have been particularly tough at Miller Park, where the Brewers will play precisely half of their 38 remaining regular season games. Milwaukee is 47-15 so far at home, the best mark in Major League Baseball. The Phillies, widely considered the NL’s most formidable team, are 43-20 at home after their win Wednesday.

For context, the Brewers can lose 12 of their final 19 games at Miller Park and still tie the franchise record for home victories. In 1978, the Brewers’ breakthrough season as a franchise, Robin Yount & Co. won 54 games at County Stadium.

It’s downright “ridiculous,” manager Ron Roenicke was saying Wednesday afternoon.

“I think when these guys come, they know something good’s going to happen,” Roenicke said. “They can get shut down with a good pitcher, and you don’t score, but something good’s going to happen later. Our pitchers are going to throw well, and we’re going to do something good at the end of the game.”

That’s precisely what happened a few hours later.

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