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Playoff-bound Brewers sweep Reds 5-3, close in on Cardinals

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 26: Cory Spangenberg #5, Yasmani Grandal #10 and Travis Shaw #21 of the Milwaukee Brewers celebrate after scoring runs on a double by Orlando Arcia in the fourth inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on September 26, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

CINCINNATI — Orlando Arcia doubled with the bases loaded, and the Milwaukee Brewers shook off the fizz from their playoffs-clinching celebration to close on the NL Central lead Thursday, beating the Cincinnati Reds 5-3 for their seventh straight victory.

The Brewers earned at least a wild card with a 9-2 win on Wednesday night, dousing each other with champagne and beer in the clubhouse afterward. Little more than 12 hours after the empty bottles and cans were cleaned away by clubhouse attendants, Milwaukee focused on an even bigger prize.

Milwaukee moved within one game of the idle Cardinals for the NL Central lead heading into the final weekend, the same status as a year ago when they also were a game out with three to play. They caught the Cubs and then beat them at Wrigley Field in a one-game tiebreaker for the division title.

CINCINNATI, OH – SEPTEMBER 26: Chase Anderson #57 of the Milwaukee Brewers pitches in the first inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on September 26, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Milwaukee concludes with three games in Colorado against the team it swept in the playoffs before losing to the Dodgers in the NL Championship Series. The Cardinals host the Cubs.

Just like last year, they’ve used a sizzling September in their race toward the top. Despite losing 2018 NL MVP Christian Yelich to a broken kneecap, the Brewers have won 18 of 20 and have the best September record in the majors at 20-4. Their seven-game winning streak matches their longest this season.

The Reds’ focus was on broadcaster Marty Brennaman’s final game after 46 seasons. The mayor declared Marty Brennaman Day during pregame festivities, and the 77-year-old broadcaster headed to the booth one last time before retirement.

Fans hoped to hear his “this one belongs to the Reds” call after a victory, but not even Cincinnati’s ace could make it happen. Luis Castillo (15-8) walked the bases loaded in the fourth and gave up Arcia’s bases-clearing double off the glove of left fielder Josh VanMeter to clear the bases. Ben Gamel followed with another double for a 4-1 lead.

Chase Anderson (8-4) allowed Aristides Aquino’s solo homer in five innings, then turned it over to a bullpen that’s the team’s strength. Josh Hader escaped a bases-loaded threat in the eighth and got the last four outs for his 37th save in 43 chances.

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