Last season, Milwaukee catcher Jonathan Lucroy was one of the National League's best hitters in clutch situations, posting a .389 average with runners in scoring position.
This year has been a struggle for Lucroy, but he has started to turn things around in recent weeks. On Saturday against the Phillies, Lucroy came up big with an RBI double in the sixth inning that gave Milwaukee a lead it would never relinquish in a 4-3 Brewers win.
"That was a big hit today," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "We've missed on some opportunities and he got two strikes on him but came through big."
Lucroy now has eight go-ahead RBIs this season and is hitting .350 over his last 17 games, raising his average from .208 to .254.
"That was nice, two leadoff hits and then I got one," Lucroy said. "That's what you want from your offense, especially the heart of the order. I'm just happy to contribute."
Tied 1-1 against Philadelphia right-hander Kyle Kendrick, Ryan Braun opened the sixth with a single to short. Aramis Ramirez followed with a grounder up the middle that put Braun at third before Lucroy made it 2-1 Milwaukee with a double off the wall in left.
"He kind of knew what we were trying to do there," Kendrick said. "We were trying to get a double play but he put a good swing on it."
Gomez was next and he singled down the left-field line to score Ramirez, giving the Brewers a 3-1 lead. Gomez moved to second on Rickie Weeks' groundout to first for the innings' first out.
Kendrick (6-4) worked out of it, striking out Juan Francisco and getting pinch-hitter Yuniesky Betancourt to fly out to center, ending the inning. After allowing three runs on eight hits and a walk with six strikeouts through six innings, Kendrick gave way to a pinch hitter in the Philadelphia seventh.
"He kept us in it," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "They could have scored a lot more."
Philadelphia had plenty of chances but went 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position and stranded six runners. The Phillies threatened in the sixth, putting runners at the corners with nobody out when Kevin Frandsen led off with a double and moved to third on Jimmy Rollins' base hit.
Frandsen was tagged out at the plate on Dominic Brown's fielder's choice and John Mayberry ended the inning, bouncing into a force at second.
The Phillies got within a run in the eighth on a two-out, two-run double by Brown but Brandon Kintzler retired pinch hitter Ryan Howard, and Francisco Rodriguez worked a perfect ninth to record his fourth save of the season.
"We had some chances to score but we couldn't take advantage of them," Manuel said. "We've got to win tomorrow and get back to .500. That's what we're going to do."
Brown put the Phillies on the board in the second with a solo home run to left, increasing his league-leading total to 18 this season.
Milwaukee tied the game in the third on Jean Segura's ninth homer of the season.
Brewers left-hander Tom Gorzelanny went four innings allowing a run on five hits with three strikeouts in his first start of the season, filling in for the injured Marco Estrada.
Tyler Thornburg (1-0) earned his first major league victory, working two scoreless innings in relief of Gorzelanny but was optioned to Triple-A Nashville after the game to clear a spot for right-hander Jim Henderson, who will return from the disabled list Sunday.
"I kind of figured it was coming," Thornburg said. "I knew a move had to be made, especially with the off-days coming up. You don't really need a long guy in there. I'm happy to get my first win. Not happy to go down."
Along with the game, the Phillies also may have lost their starting catcher for the near future as Erik Kratz suffered a knee injury in the ninth inning.
"He heard his knee pop; it's not good," said Manuel, who joked that he was the team's emergency catcher due to his experience as a bullpen receiver during his time in the Dodgers' system. "You never get used to injuries but they're part of the game."
Kratz will be examined further by the team's medical staff to determine the extent of his injury and if a roster move will be necessary.
NOTES: Brewers RHP Francisco Rodriguez is 1-0 with a 0.87 ERA and four saves since returning to Milwaukee May 15. ... Philadelphia has hit at least one home run in 13 consecutive games, the team's longest streak since 2008; 38 of the Phillies' last 47 home runs have been solo shots. ... Gorzelanny made his first start of the season Saturday, becoming the eighth different starter - and first left-handed starter used by Milwaukee this season. ... Philadelphia has won 10 of the last 15 games at Miller Park and is 40-27 overall against the Brewers since the beginning of the 2004 season.
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