Never has it felt so good for a first-place team to win a series.
Claiming a series for only the second time since the start of July, the Milwaukee Brewers pulled out a tense 3-1 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Thursday afternoon at Miller Park, assuring sole possession of first place in the NL Central for at least another day.
The Brewers received a strong performance from starter Wily Peralta, who became the first pitcher in the majors to record 14 victories. The bullpen, which had been leaking oil of late, cover the final 2 1/3 innings, with Francisco Rodriguez recording his 34th save.
Prior to taking two of three from the Giants, the Brewers had captured one of nine series since July 1, splitting one and losing seven. The lone series victory was a three-game sweep of Cincinnati from July 21-23.
Peralta delivered the starting performance the Brewers needed, going 6 2/3 innings and allowing only one run on seven hits. He struck out nine and threw 115 pitches, both career highs, in becoming the first major-league pitcher to record 14 victories this season.
Veteran right-hander Jake Peavy started for the Giants and went 5 2/3 innings, allowing nine hits and three walks but only three runs.
Peralta had to do some work to get out of the first inning unscathed. Angel Pagan, fresh off the DL, led off with a bloop single to right but was forced at second when shortstop Jean Segura made a diving stop of Hunter Pence's grounder up the middle.
Buster Posey singled to center and both runners moved up on Pablo Sandoval's groundout. Peralta nicked Michael Morse's hand with a pitch to load the bases before finally putting an end to the threat by whiffing Joe Panik.
Giants starter Jake Peavy was fortunate to escape the bottom of the inning with only one run on the board. Carlos Gomez led off with a single but was thrown out trying to steal second base.
Jonathan Lucroy followed with a single and came all the way around to score when Ryan Braun drove a double into the gap in right-center. Aramis Ramirez sent a drive to deep right that Pence hauled in on the run to save another extra-base hit and run, and Khris Davis flied out to end the inning.
Peavy struck out to open the fifth inning but reached first when Peralta's pitch bounced through Lucroy's legs for a wild pitch. That proved costly because Pagan and Pence followed with singles, the latter tying the score at 1.
Peralta averted further damage by striking out Posey and getting Sandoval to ground into a 6-4-3 double play.
Leading off the bottom of the sixth, Ramirez sent a drive to right-center for a double, and Davis dunked another double into shallow right to snap the deadlock. Rickie Weeks' sharp single to left put runners on the corners with one down, setting up a sacrifice fly by Mark Reynolds.
After a single by Jean Segura, Peralta bunted the runners up but reliever Juan Gutierrez took over for Peavy and struck out Gomez to keep it at 3-1.
Andrew Susac led off the Giants seventh with a single but Peralta bounced back to strike out pinch-hitter Travis Ishikawa and Pagan, catching the leadoff hitter looking on the eighth pitch of the at-bat. Jeremy Jeffress took over and retired Pence on a fly to right.
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