MILWAUKEE - Eduardo Escobar hit a tiebreaking solo homer in the sixth inning, and the Milwaukee Brewers topped the Philadelphia Phillies 4-3 on Wednesday night.
Milwaukee, which won the final two games of the series after dropping the opener, extended its lead to 12 games in the NL Central over Cincinnati, which lost 4-1 to the Chicago Cubs.
"At this point, it’s stacking up wins and if teams behind us lose, it gets tough on them, for sure," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "We know it’s in our hands right now. You work this hard to build this lead and it’s in our hands. So that’s how you see it. Take care of our business, and we’ve earned that."
Philadelphia remained 2½ games behind NL East-leading Atlanta.
Escobar drove an 0-1 pitch from Connor Brogdon (5-4) deep to right for his 25th homer. The infielder was acquired in a July trade with Arizona.
Escobar, on the injured list from Aug. 24 through Sept. 2, homered for the first time since Aug. 2. In 17 career games against Philadelphia, Escobar is batting .356 (21 for 59) with four homers and 22 RBIs.
"It had been a long time since I homered, but I still fight every at-bat, come every day to the ballpark and work really hard," Escobar said.
Milwaukee’s bullpen covered 5 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of Freddy Peralta. Alan Ashby (2-0) got six outs and Brad Boxberger pitched a perfect seventh. Devin Williams worked the eighth before Josh Hader closed it out for his 30th save in 31 opportunities.
Bryce Harper hit his 29th homer for Philadelphia in the first, but Milwaukee responded with two runs in the bottom half.
Kolten Wong singled and scored on Omar Narváez’s one-out double off Kyle Gibson. Consecutive walks by Luis Urias and Daniel Vogelbach forced in another run.
Gibson escaped the bases-loaded jam by striking out Lorenzo Cain and Jackie Bradley Jr.
The Brewers made it 3-1 in the second when Peralta singled, moved to third on Wong’s double and scored on Christian Yelich’s infield hit.
Philadelphia tied it with two unearned runs in third. The Phillies loaded the bases on singles by Travis Jankowski and Odubel Herrera around an error on Gibson’s attempted sacrifice bunt. Harper walked to force in a run and J.T. Realmuto followed with an RBI fielder’s choice.
"This is one of those games, yeah, it would be great to have, but that’s a really good team over there and more than likely the team that we’re going to see in October when we get there," Gibson said. "So, to play them pretty tight, to have multiple chances there in the last two innings against their best guys, you really can’t ask for anything else."
It was the second consecutive abbreviated start for Peralta since a stint on the 10-day injured list with right shoulder inflammation. He allowed three runs, one earned, and four hits in 3 2/3 innings.
"I don’t think he’s locked in, but I think he’s healthy. I don’t think there’s any question about that," Counsell said. "I thought the velocity was outstanding today. I think we’ve just got to keep getting him out there on regular turn."
Yelich, who has struggled offensively for much of the season, is batting .321 over his last 30 games, raising his average to .260. Yelich, who was hitting .226 on Aug. 11, has six homers and 17 RBIs in the 30-game span.
Phillies: RHP Zach Eflin is scheduled to undergo surgery Friday in Philadelphia to repair his right patellar tendon. His expected recovery time is six to eight months. He has been transferred to the 60-day injured list.
Brewers: SS Willy Adames hit in the cage for the first time since going on the 10-day injured list on Sunday with a left quad strain.
YELICH HEATING UP
Christian Yelich, who struggled offensively much of the season, is batting .321 over his last 30 games, raising his average to .260. Yelich, who was hitting .226 on Aug. 11, has four doubles, a triple, six homers and 17 RBI in the 30-game span. Yelich hit .326 with 36 homers and 110 RBI in his MVP season of 2018, then was hitting .329 with 44 homers in 2019 before fracturing a knee cap that September. He hit just .205 with 12 homers and 22 RBI in 58 games last season.
The Phillies return home to open a four-game series Thursday against Colorado. LHP Ranger Suárez (6-4, 1.38 ERA) starts for Philadelphia, while the Rockies counter with RHP Antonio Senzatela (4-9, 4.16 ERA).
After an off day, Milwaukee is at Cleveland for three games. RHP Adrian Houser (8-6, 3.41 ERA) starts Friday night for the Brewers against RHP Eli Morgan (2-6, 5.48 ERA).