Diamondbacks' final rally falls short in Game 5
MILWAUKEE—Saved by Chris Young's incredible catch, the Arizona Diamondbacks appeared to be on the brink of their biggest comeback yet when Willie Bloomquist's squeeze bunt tied the game in the ninth inning.
Poised to strike again, Arizona never did.
"We did the best we could and there's no shame in that," Bloomquist said. "We left it all on the field."
Nyjer Morgan singled home the winning run with one out in the 10th and the Milwaukee Brewers eliminated the Diamondbacks 3-2 in the deciding Game 5 of their NL division series Friday.
"It was a great game for the fans, for baseball, it was well-played. Unfortunately, we lost," Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said. "We've had great comebacks all year. Unfortunately, tonight we weren't able to finish it off."
Trailing 2-1 in the ninth, Arizona got to closer John Axford after he had converted 43 straight regular-season save chances and another in the postseason.
Gerardo Parra doubled -- his first hit of the series -- and reached third on Sean Burroughs' single. Bloomquist put down a safety squeeze up the first-base line as Axford and first baseman Prince Fielder converged, but neither could make a throw home or to first.
"I thought we were going to score a couple more runs right there, but we didn't," catcher Miguel Montero said. "When we tied the game I thought it was going to be game over. I really thought we'd be scoring a couple more runs. It didn't happen and now we're packing to go home."
Axford remained in big trouble with runners on first and second as Diamondbacks players on the bench did "The Snake" -- a striking motion with their hands in response to Milwaukee's "Beast Mode" theatrics. But Axford struck out Aaron Hill and got Justin Upton and Henry Blanco to ground out.
Arizona never had another baserunner as Axford retired the side in order in the 10th.
In the bottom half, Carlos Gomez singled off Diamondbacks closer J.J. Putz and stole second. Morgan then lashed a single up the middle with Putz trying to stop it with his right foot and Bloomquist diving in vain.
"If I could have put my head in front of it I would have," Putz said. "The bottom line is I just didn't make a pitch."
Young's throw from center to Blanco was high and late as the celebration started immediately at home plate for the Brewers.
The NL West champions had rallied to win a major league-best 48 times in the regular season, and looked poised to pull off a series victory after climbing out of an 0-2 hole.
The momentum swung twice in the sixth alone with ace Ian Kennedy on the mound and the game tied at 1. Ryan Braun led off with a double and Kennedy walked Fielder on four pitches, none of them close.
But Rickie Weeks popped up a bunt and Young made a tremendous, over-the-shoulder catch of Jerry Hairston Jr.'s drive to deep center field for the second out.
"I don't think I'll think about that catch at all, honestly," Young said. "If we had won the game, maybe, but it really doesn't even matter right now in my opinion."
Hairston put both hands on his helmet, looking up in disbelief. Kennedy slammed his right hand into his glove, shouting, "Yeah, baby!" and then pointing out to Young to thank him.
But not even Young could help him on the next at-bat, when Yuniesky Betancourt's soft single landed in short center field, scoring Braun to make it 2-1.
Arizona squandered a bases-loaded opportunity with two outs in the eighth against former Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez. Ryan Roberts, who hit a grand slam in Game 4, fell behind 0-2 against K-Rod and grounded out to end the threat.
The Diamondbacks broke through the next inning against Axford, who was roughed up by Arizona on July 4 at Miller Park. In that game, Milwaukee had a 6-1 lead, but Axford came in and took the loss 8-6 after Arizona had tied it.
Axford lost this lead, too, before bearing down and retiring six straight to earn the victory.
Arizona completed a worst-to-first turnaround under Gibson and looked to reach its first NLCS since being swept by the Colorado Rockies in 2007.
But the Diamondbacks never manufactured a big inning as they did back home when they hit grand slams in each of their two victories in Phoenix -- one by rookie Paul Goldschmidt in Game 3 and another by Roberts in Game 4.
"We've come a long way," Gibson said. "We set goals in the beginning of the year. Unfortunately, we didn't get all the way there. We talked about changing the culture and what does it mean to be a Diamondback?
"I just told these guys that they should be proud, because they've set the stage and the standard for how we want to play and they've done it all year," he said.
Arizona took a 1-0 lead in the third on Upton's homer off starter Yovani Gallardo. Milwaukee tied it in the fourth on a short sacrifice fly by Hairston that brought home Morgan.
"A little hit here, a break there and it could have went our way," Arizona general manager Kevin Towers said. "But you know what? It was a great series. This was the way probably it should have ended."
NOTES: Arizona became the first team since the 2004 Astros to hit at least 10 homers in a division series. ... Goldschmidt finished the series 7 of 16 with two homers, six RBIs and four runs. ... Six of Arizona's seven runs at Miller Park came on homers. ... Parra finished the series 1 for 18.