The Milwaukee Brewers hadn't won a road playoff game in 29 years before Thursday. They will try to make it two in a row and head back home with a series lead tonight when they play a pivotal Game 5 of the National League Championship Series against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium.
Milwaukee evened this best-of-seven affair on Thursday, as Randy Wolf shined in the longest postseason start of his career, tossing seven innings of two- run baseball to help the Brewers to a 4-2 win to even the set at two games apiece.
Ryan Braun's run-scoring single in the fifth inning proved to be the difference for the Brewers, who bounced back from a 4-3 loss on Wednesday to snap an eight-game road losing streak in the playoffs. Milwaukee, which is just 4-11 all-time on the road in the postseason, last won a road playoff game back in Game 1 of the 1982 World Series against the Cardinals.
Another win tonight would give the Brewers back-to-back road playoff wins for the first time since taking Games 3 and 4 at Yankee Stadium of the ALDS during the strike-shortened 1981 season.
Wolf (1-1), who was battered by Arizona in his lone NLDS start, gave up two runs -- both off solo homers -- on six hits to pick up his first career postseason win. The left-hander struck out six and walked one.
"I'll be honest -- the day after the D-backs game, I didn't eat or shower that day," Wolf said. "I don't know if they call that depression."
In addition to evening this series, the Brewers more importantly secured at least one more home playoff game. Milwaukee excelled at home during the regular season, setting a franchise record by going 57-24, and the club has a mark of 4-1 at Miller Park during the postseason.
"Real important for us to go back home," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "I still think that we can play good ball on the road. But it's important to go back home for sure. Hopefully we'll do it with a lead, but if not, we have got two games there."
Kyle Lohse (0-2) allowed three runs on six hits over 4 1/3 innings to take the loss.
"Well, I thought his stuff was good. Delivery was good most of the time," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "And, you know, couple of times that he wasn't sharp, good hitters got him."
Tonight the Brewers turn to righty Zack Greinke, who earned the win in Game 1 of this series, but was not sharp, as he allowed six runs and eight hits in six innings of work.
After posting a 2.68 ERA in his final seven starts, Greinke has allowed 10 earned run in 11 postseason innings and has pitched to an 8.18 ERA.
"Zack has kept us in games," Roenicke said. "That's what you ask from a starting pitcher, especially in the playoffs, but he has not been the lights- out guy that we have seen for quite a while."
In three regular season starts versus the Cardinals Greinke went 2-1 with a 3.15 ERA.
"[In my] first two games, I've given up some runs, but I've been really happy with how I've pitched," Greinke said. "So [Friday], I'm just going to do what I can do, and if I throw good, I'll be happy, happy with how I throw."
The Brewers, of course, won each Greinke's 17 home starts this season, but the former AL Cy Young Award winner posted just a 5-6 road mark to go along with a 4.70 ERA.
"Besides (games against) the Yankees (June 28) and Cubs (June 16), I felt like I've pitched just as good everywhere," Greinke said. "Those two games I haven't pitched like I should pitch and it wasn't because of being on the road."
St. Louis, meanwhile, will counter with left-hander Jaime Garcia, who has lost both of his postseason starts and allowed six runs in four innings to the Brewers in Game 1.
"I've said this before, I feel really good about myself -- physically, mentally -- and I'm ready to go," Garcia said.
At Busch Stadium, the left-hander is 9-4 with a 2.55 ERA, compared to a 4-3 (4.61) mark on the road. He also tossed a two-hit shutout to beat the Brewers the last time he faced them at Busch.
"Obviously, I like pitching here," Garcia said. "But I don't really feel any different on the road. I just feel like throughout the year, a lot of times when I've pitched on the road, it was just one of those things where it didn't go your way. But I've had some good games on the road and then some not very good at home."
Of course the Cardinals are quite familiar with their NL Central inhabitant Brewers. Including this series, the teams have split all 22 matchups this season.
Only twice since the addition of the wild card have two teams from the National League Central met in the NLCS. It last happened in 2005, when the Astros knocked the Cardinals out of the playoffs.
In an underlying storyline, tonight could be the last home game for Albert Pujols, who can become a free agent at season's end. The three-time MVP was held in check in Thursday's loss, going just 1-for-4, but he is still 8-for-15 in this series with a home run and six RBI.
"We've been in this situation," Pujols said. "It's best out of three. That's how you need to look at it. We need to win [Friday]."