MILWAUKEE — Daniel Vogelbach belted a pair of homers and drove in all five runs as the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Kansas City Royals 5-3 on Sunday to sweep the three-game interleague matchup.
Vogelbach, claimed by the Brewers off waivers earlier this month, hit a two-run home run to straightaway centre with two outs in the first off Brad Keller (4-3). He blasted a three-run opposite-field shot to chase Keller in the sixth. Vogelbach has three home runs since joining the Brewers and five on the season.
“You want to come to the ballpark and do your part every day,” Vogelbach said. “I’m a very competitive person and I don’t like losing. It’s a winning atmosphere here and a winning culture. A lot of times you raise your level of play to the people around you."
Vogelbach had a chance to do even more damage but struck out with the bases loaded in the seventh in a seven-pitch at-bat but Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell wasn't complaining.
“He’s probably doing more than you’d ever expect," Counsell said. "There’s a little edge to him that’s been really positive for us. Men on base, huge hits in huge spots.”
Milwaukee closed out the regular-season schedule at Miller Park in what was possibly the final home game in a Brewers uniform for Ryan Braun, the 2007 NL Rookie of the Year and the 2011 MVP who has spent his entire 14-year career with the franchise. Braun, who will turn 37 in November, is in the final guaranteed year of a five-year, $105-million contract extension signed in 2011.
Braun went 2-for-4 with two runs scored. He legged out an infield hit in his final at-bat.
“It was definitely a little bit more emotional than a typical game would be, certainly," Braun said. "Trying to take it all in. It would have obviously been a completely different experience had the fans been here.”
The Brewers improved to 26-26 with their fourth consecutive win and reached the .500 mark for the first time since they were 11-11.
Josh Lindblom (2-3), who was reinstated from the bereavement list prior to the start of the game, turned in another effective outing for the Brewers. He gave up one run and three hits in 5 1/3 innings, with two strikeouts and no walks.
Lindblom tossed five shutout innings on Monday in a no-decision against St. Louis and also made two scoreless relief appearances between starts.
Lindblom said he'd been away from the team due his wife dealing with an unspecified medical emergency.
“It was a hard week,” Lindblom said. "There was nothing superhuman about my focus today. To go out there for three and a half hours, that’s a mental break for me from everything else that is going on.”
Josh Hader retired the lone batter he faced to notch his 10th save in 12 tries after Salvador Perez hit a two-run homer in the ninth off Brent Suter to cut the lead to 5-3.
The Royals plated their first run in the sixth on Whit Merrifield’s RBI groundout.
Keller, who pitched a five-hit shutout in an 11-0 win in his previous start on Sept. 13 against Pittsburgh, gave up five hits and five runs in five innings.
Royals: 2B Nicky Lopez was briefly shaken up after Christian Yelich slid into his left leg while breaking up a double-play attempt in the first. Lopez remained in the game.
BREWERS: Placed OF Ben Gamel on 10-day injured list with a left quadriceps injury. …Braun, who has been dealing with lower back stiffness, started at DH with Vogelbach playing first.
HOME ON THE ROAD
The Brewers played their final regular-season home game at Miller Park, but not the final game in which the club will be the “home” team on the field. Milwaukee will bat second in Game 1 of a doubleheader on Friday at St. Louis, but for statistical purposes the contest will be counted as a road game. This is the make-up of the final game of the series that had been slated at Miller Park on Aug. 2 that was postponed after positive Covid-19 tests among the Cardinals team.
Although Braun insists that he hasn’t made a decision yet about whether he will retire, he was in a rather nostalgic mood after the game.
“I really want to take the time to get away from it and reflect on the season and see what the sport itself looks like and see what the world looks like,” Braun said. “This year has been such a unique and challenging year in so many ways. Being a parent and being a husband, my family is my top priority in life and at some point, as the kids get older, I just don’t enjoy being away from them at all. That’s the biggest reason.”
He said many sentimental moments ran through his mind as he looked around Miller Park. “Thinking about the celebrations, thinking about the big home runs," he said. "I look back and it feels like 14 years have gone by in the blink of an eye.”
Royals: RHP Carlos Hernández (0-0, 3.86) will make his second career start with Kansas City opening a three-game set at home against St. Louis. Hernandez didn't earn a decision in his first career outing, a Royals’ 7-4 win over Pittsburgh on Sept. 12, in which he allowed three runs on three hits, all solo homers, in three innings.
Brewers: RHP Brandon Woodruff (2-4, 3.45) will take the mound as Milwaukee begins a three-game series at Cincinnati. Woodruff is 3-2 with a 4.25 ERA in seven career games (five starts) against the Reds.
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Rich Rovito, The Associated Press