Bats finally wake up but Hader falters, Brewers eliminated

Milwaukee Brewers' Luis Urias (2) avoids a ball at the plate pitched by Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Tyler Matzek (68) during the eighth inning of Game 4 of a baseball National League Division Series, Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

ATLANTA (AP) — At least the Milwaukee Brewers went down swinging.

Eliminated from the NL Division Series following a 5-4 loss to the Atlanta Braves in Game 4 on Tuesday, the Brewers were 0 for 20 with runners in scoring position until RBI singles by Omar Narváez and Lorenzo Cain put them up 2-0 in the fourth inning.

But there weren’t many more highlights in October as the Brewers head into the offseason still seeking their first championship. They haven’t been to the World Series since 1982, despite making the playoffs in each of the last four years.

Christian Yelich took a called third strike to end it with a runner on first in the ninth against Braves closer Will Smith, who saved his third game of the best-of-five playoff to help the Braves advance to the NL Championship Series for the second consecutive year.

For Milwaukee, which won 95 games during the regular season and easily took the NL Central title, the winter will come with plenty of second-guessing.

All-Star closer Josh Hader, who converted 34 of 35 save chances during the regular season, was asked to keep the score 4-all in the eighth. He struck out the first two batters he faced before Freddie Freeman took him deep to put Milwaukee in a 5-4 hole.

That essentially ended it.

The Brewers took a 4-2 lead in the fifth on Rowdy Tellez’s two-run homer, a 448-foot shot to center field, but the Braves came back to tie it in the bottom half on Joc Pederson’s RBI groundout and Travis d’Arnaud’s run-scoring single.

Milwaukee starter Eric Lauer, making his first career postseason appearance, breezed through the first three innings before running into trouble in the fourth. The left-hander gave up two runs and four hits in 3 2/3 innings and was removed after hitting Guillermo Heredia with a pitch.

Atlanta tied it at 2-all in the fourth against Hunter Strickland on pinch-hitter Eddie Rosario’s two-run single.

After no action in the sixth and seventh, the drama came down to Hader, a gas-throwing left-hander, facing Freeman, a left-handed-hitting slugger. Hader led NL relievers with 102 strikeouts in 58 2/3 innings and was handed his only blown save on July 7 at the New York Mets. He gave up no runs in his last 21 appearances and saved Game 1 in Milwaukee.

Freeman’s drive was the first homer Hader allowed to a left-handed hitter this year.