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MILWAUKEE (AP) — MILWAUKEE (AP) — Ryan Braun singled in the go-ahead run in the seventh and the slumping Milwaukee Brewers rallied for a much-needed 3-2 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday that snapped their skid at five.
Trailing 2-1, Milwaukee strung together three consecutive hits with two out in the seventh to keep its dwindling NL Central lead at six with 14 games left after St. Louis beat Atlanta.
The Phillies could have clinched a playoff spot with a win and a St. Louis loss. The Cardinals beat the Braves 6-3.
Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo (16-10) matched a career high with 12 strikeouts over seven innings, but allowed homers to Shane Victorino and Ryan Howard in the sixth.
Milwaukee responded in the seventh. Corey Hart and Nyjer Morgan hit consecutive doubles to tie it. Braun followed with his clutch hit after he and Prince Fielder had been 0 for 4 with runners in scoring position.
Philadelphia stranded runners at the corners in the eighth when Howard grounded out against Francisco Rodriguez.
Brewers closer John Axford allowed a one-out single by Pete Orr and a two-out walk to Michael Martinez before John Bowker popped out weakly. Axford has converted 39 consecutive save opportunities and is 42 for 44 overall.
Philadelphia had won six straight and was on an even bigger role when Vance Worley (11-2) was on the mound. The Phillies had won Worley’s last 14 starts dating to May 29, one short of the franchise record set when Steve Carlton was on the mound in 1972.
The major league-leading Phillies remain 12 games ahead of Atlanta in the NL East and could wrap up their fifth straight division title as soon as Wednesday.
The Brewers entered last week with a 10 ½-game lead over St. Louis. Milwaukee plays no one with a winning record the rest of the year beginning on Tuesday against Colorado.
Milwaukee’s seventh-inning rally started with a flare double by Hart. Morgan then lashed one of his own and stretched his arms high above his head as part of his “beast mode” celebration he helped begin with Fielder this season.
Braun hit a long fly ball off Worley that was barely foul in the right-field corner, then singled to right to give Milwaukee a 3-2 lead.
Victorino led off the sixth with his 16th homer after Gallardo had allowed just one hit – a second-inning single to Howard – up to that point.
Howard added his 33rd home run and NL-best 112th RBI to put Philadelphia ahead 2-1 even though Gallardo had struck out two or more batters in four different innings.
Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks started for the first time since severely spraining his ankle on July 27. He scored Milwaukee’s first run in the second on Jonathan Lucroy’s groundout.
Worley worked around runners in scoring position in the first, third and fifth innings before the Brewers finally broke through against him in the seventh and held on from there.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)