Brewers 7, Marlins 2
Even with his closer unavailable and his team on the verge of a rare four-game sweep, Milwaukee Brewers manager Ron Roenicke was able to relax a bit in the late innings Monday night.
For his team, a five-run lead was a rare luxury.
After winning three days in a row by a single run, the Brewers completed their first four-game sweep since August 2008 by beating the Florida Marlins 7-2. Prince Fielder had a homer and four RBIs to help provide the comfy cushion.
''It's really nice,'' Roenicke said. ''You're not on edge the last couple of innings. You bring in the pitchers who need to get work, and that's really nice to do.''
Closer John Axford left the team before the game because his wife was about to have a baby. As it turned out, the Brewers didn't need much from their bullpen.
Zack Greinke (5-1) matched a season high by pitching seven innings and allowed two runs. He won his fifth consecutive decision and lowered his ERA to 4.83.
''With the close games, we've been wearing out our seventh-, eighth- and ninth-inning guys,'' Greinke said. ''I tried to take it deep into the game and make it easy on some of them.''
The Marlins lost a season-worst fifth game in a row. They've dropped eight of 10 since sweeping the NL champion Giants.
''We have to regroup and go back do what we were doing before this series,'' manager Edwin Rodriguez said.
Fielder hit a three-run homer, his 14th, and added an RBI single. Ryan Braun had two hits and scored twice for the Brewers, who were 5 for 10 with runners in scoring position.
The Brewers are 20-6 overall since May 9, best in the majors. They went 5-2 on their two-city trip to improve to 13-19 on the road.
''There shouldn't be any more panic or wonder about why we can't win on the road, because we've done it now, especially against a good team,'' Fielder said.
Javier Vazquez (3-5) lasted only four innings and departed trailing 6-2. His ERA rose to 6.50, but he's unlikely to be dumped from the rotation because the Marlins are already struggling to replace ace Josh Johnson, who is on the disabled list.
''I had good stuff, I just didn't locate well,'' Vazquez said. ''I made a couple of mistakes that cost me.''
Florida was swept at home in a four-game series for the first time since August 2007 against San Francisco.
The Brewers' most recent four-game sweep came in 2008 against Washington. They earned their first four-game sweep over Florida since April 1998.
''We're playing a good team and know we're going to have to be on our game to beat them,'' Roenicke said, ''and we came in and played great baseball.''
Florida's Logan Morrison had three hits, including an RBI single and a run-scoring double.
Otherwise the Marlins' offense again sputtered without All-Star shortstop Hanley Ramirez, who hasn't played since May 29 because of a strained back. Ramirez was placed on the disabled list before the game.
Fielder homered for a 4-1 lead in the third after Ricky Weeks walked and Braun singled.
''A three-run homer when you're on the opposing side - it hurts,'' Roenicke said.
Fielder also had a two-out RBI single in the seventh.
Weeks doubled to start the game, advanced on a groundout and came home on Braun's infield single.
Omar Infante was 0 for 13 lifetime against Greinke before he doubled in the first inning. He scored on a single by Morrison.
Morrison doubled home a run in the fourth.
NOTES: The Brewers reached a milestone by improving their record as members of the NL to 1,000-1,164-1. ... Morgan was out when he overslid the bag trying to get back to first after being caught in a rundown. Catcher John Buck hustled down to first to make a lunging tag. ... Craig Counsell, a World Series hero for the Marlins in 1997, received a big ovation from the tiny crowd when he pinch-hit in the eighth.