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Must C Clutch: Lucroy makes D-backs pay with a slam

PHOENIX -- The D-backs sent a message to Ryan Braun, loud and clear.

One of Braun's teammates stepped to the plate and delivered the Brewers' response.

Jonathan Lucroy's go-ahead grand slam came on the very first pitch after Braun was drilled in the back by a fastball, capping the dramatic seventh-inning sequence that sent the Brewers to a 7-5 win at Chase Field on Tuesday.

Lucroy homered twice and Aramis Ramirez also went deep as the National League Central-leading Brewers overcame a three-run deficit in the first inning to move 14 games over .500 for the first time this season.

Considering the way the seventh inning unfolded, plus the history between these teams, it might have been the Brewers' most meaningful win of the season to date.

"I think the at-bat Luc had was probably the best at-bat I've ever seen," said manager Ron Roenicke, who has been involved in professional baseball -- playing, coaching or managing -- since 1977. "After they smoke our guy, they bring in [right-hander Brad Ziegler], first pitch [Lucroy] sees, he hits a grand slam. There's just no way an at-bat can get bigger than that."

Lucroy's third career grand slam made a winner of starter Kyle Lohse, who fought his command over six hard-fought innings and hit a pair of batters, including Chris Owings in the back of the neck leading off the sixth after the Brewers had just cut their deficit to one run. That wayward pitch was a part of the postgame discussion.

Also in play was history, since Braun has been the subject of D-backs manager Kirk Gibson's ire since failing a drug test during the Brewers' victorious 2011 National League Division Series, and his 2013 suspension in the wake of the Biogenesis investigation.

With those circumstances as the backdrop, Braun stepped to the plate and watched a 94-mph fastball from Marshall sail behind his back, drawing a mound visit from veteran plate umpire Ted Barrett. Marshall's second pitch was a 95-mph fastball to the middle of Braun's lower back, which earned Marshall an immediate ejection.

As Lucroy watched from the on-deck circle, he thought to himself, "It's ridiculous, and it's overreacting. When you have a one-run game, we're going to put the leadoff batter [Owings] on first base by hitting him in the head? Really? If they want to protect their guys, fine, but I really didn't understand doing it right there in that situation."

Said Braun: "We know the way the game works. I wasn't surprised I got hit; I was surprised I got hit in that situation and circumstances, with the go-ahead run at second base and the tying run at third base, and they were ahead. I was a little surprised by that. But we hit a couple of their guys -- it wasn't intentional, but that's the way the game works sometimes."

Marshall said the pitches simply got away.

"The game plan there with guys in scoring position, we're trying to create some soft contact, and my best stuff is to work sink down and in," Marshall said. "A ball got away and got him, and that's what happened."

Twice?

"Same thing," he said. "I was trying to hit the glove and the ball got away."

"Honestly, I don't think there was any intention on anybody's part," Gibson said. "I think we're just playing the game. It was a good, clean game, and they beat us again. That's disappointing."

When Marshall reached his dugout, players and coaches were lined up to deliver fist-bumps and high-fives. Gibson was at the head of the line.

But the wayward pitch backfired. Ziegler entered the game, and Lucroy connected with the first post-plunk pitch, sending it over the wall in left-center for a three-run Brewers lead. It was Lucroy's fourth career multihomer game, as he'd also belted a solo shot in the sixth off D-backs starter Mike Bolsinger.

Lucroy had been 0-for-3 with a pair of strikeouts in previous at-bats against Ziegler, who had allowed only two home runs and 38 prior appearances this season.

"It just feels good to get the win," Lucroy said. "Whether it's quote-unquote payback, I'm not about revenge or payback. I'm about winning the game."

Lohse won for the eighth time this season after fighting command trouble and some bad luck. He was charged with four runs, three of them earned during a first inning that began with a hit batsman and did not include a hard-hit ball.

Ramirez recovered one run in the top of the second inning when he wrapped a solo home run around the left-field foul pole, but Arizona's lead grew to three runs in the fifth inning after Scooter Gennett's error extended an Arizona rally for a Martin Prado single. Prado finished with two RBIs.

"You know what? [The D-backs] won tough-guy points today, but I don't know where the stats are for those," said Lohse. "We won the game because of that. It was pretty unnecessary. The ball got away from me [against Owings]. You don't want that to happen. But you're going to play tough-guy stuff? Go ahead. We're winning games."

Do the Brewers expect more tense innings over the final two games of the series?

"I don't see any reason why people would -- we're not going to do anything," Lucroy said. "We're not trying to hit anybody. If they want to hit us, fine. We'll get on base and drive them in. I don't care. If you want to hit me, fine. I get hit all the time. I don't care. Whatever."

According to Roenicke, it's over.

"They did what they thought they needed to do," he said. "It was a great ballgame to win."

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