Brewers sweep Rockies, 3-0; reach NLCS

Erik Kratz of the Milwaukee Brewers hits a two-run RBI single during the eighth inning of Game Two of the National League Division Series against the Colorado Rockies at Miller Park on 5 October 2018 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (AFP photo)

DENVER, United States — Erik Kratz maintained his hot bat and the vaunted bullpen pitched masterfully as the Milwaukee Brewers swept their National League Division Series by clobbering the Colorado Rockies 6-0 on Sunday.

The Brewers took advantage of some Colorado mistakes in the sixth inning to bust open Game Three — and then added back-to-back homers in the ninth for good measure.

Milwaukee starter Wade Miley pitched superbly into the fifth inning to help lead the Brewers to a 3-0 sweep of the Rockies — and their first NL Championship Series appearance in seven years.

Miley allowed three hits over 4 2/3 innings of work and five Brewer relievers, including closer Josh Hader, allowed only one hit after taking over for Miley in front of a crowd of 49,600 at Coors Field in Denver.

Hader got Rockies first baseman Ian Desmond to fly out to end the game.

“The story of the series for us was certainly our pitching,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said.

Kratz went three-for-four at the plate and scored a run, while Keon Broxton and Orlando Arcia blasted consecutive homers late to put the game away.

Kratz, a catcher who was acquired from the New York Yankees in May in a trade, is making the most of this latest opportunity. He batted five-for-eight in the series.

The Rockies offense fell apart in the series, producing just two runs and 14 hits overall.

Colorado, who lost the first two games at Miller Park by scores of 3-2 and 4-0, scored runs in only one inning in the entire series.

Atlanta avoids sweep

The Brewers will next face either the Los Angeles Dodgers or the Atlanta Braves.

Also on Sunday, Atlanta relief pitcher Arodys Vizcaino got out of a jam in a ninth and the Braves held on to beat the Dodgers, 6-5, to avoid suffering a sweep like the Rockies.

Los Angeles now leads their best-of-five series, two games to one.

Atlanta rookie Ronald Acuna smacked a grand slam to help the Braves build a 5-0 lead against the Dodgers.

They then blew that big lead, but first baseman Freddie Freeman hit a tie-breaking home run in the sixth and Atlanta never looked back.

In the ninth, the Dodgers threatened with runners on first and second and no outs. Vizcaino then struck out three consecutive batters — Max Muncy, Manny Machado and Brian Dozier — to end it.

“My heart’s still pounding,” Freeman said, moments after the last out. “That’s how we’ve been all year.”

“I like our chances. We’ve got a uniform on, so we know we’ve got a chance.”

Game Four takes place Monday in Atlanta.

The 20-year-old Acuna became the youngest Major League player to hit a playoff grand slam, surpassing Mickey Mantle, who was 21 when he did it for the New York Yankees in the 1953 World Series.

Chris Taylor hit a two-run homer and Muncy added a tying homer in the fifth to spark the comeback for Los Angeles, which was denied its second straight NLDS sweep after blanking Arizona last year.

p: wjg