Andy Haines out as Brewers' hitting coach after NLDS loss

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Andy Haines is out as the Milwaukee Brewers’ hitting coach after they scored a total of six runs in a four-game National League Division Series loss to the Atlanta Braves.

The Brewers announced Wednesday they wouldn’t be renewing Haines’ contract and told assistant hitting coach Jacob Cruz he is free to explore other options while the Brewers search for Haines’ replacement.

Haines had been the Brewers’ hitting coach for the last three seasons.

Bucks sign guard Grayson Allen to multiyear extension

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Milwaukee Bucks guard Grayson Allen has signed a multi-year contract extension less than 2 ½ months after the team acquired him from the Memphis Grizzlies.

Allen joined the Bucks in an Aug. 7 trade that set guard Sam Merrill and two future second-round draft picks to Memphis.

Allen posted career highs in scoring (10.6), rebounding (3.2) ad assists (2.2) last season in 50 games with the Grizzlies.

The 26-year-old Allen averaged 11.3 points and 4.3 rebounds and 22.4 minutes in four preseason games with the Bucks.

Stearns says Brewers don't know cause of Yelich's struggles

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Milwaukee Brewers president of baseball operations David Stearns says nobody has been able to figure out the cause of Christian Yelich’s hitting struggles over the past couple of seasons.

“I think if we did, if Christian knew exactly what happened, it’s easier to solve,” Stearns said Friday during a news conference wrapping up the Brewers’ season. “It’s certainly frustrating for Christian.”

Getting him back on track is a major offseason priority for the Brewers as they continue chasing their first World Series title. Yelich will make $26 million each of the next seven seasons, though $4 million of that will be deferred each year.

Yelich was the 2018 NL MVP and finished second in the 2019 MVP balloting his first two seasons in Milwaukee – leading the NL in batting average and OPS each of those years – but he hasn’t come close to approaching that production since.

He hit .248 with nine homers and 51 RBIs in 117 games this year and struck out looking with the tying run on first to end the Brewers’ NL Division Series loss to the Atlanta Braves.

“I have to be better,” Yelich said after Game 4. “I came up in a lot of big spots throughout the year and in the postseason as well and came up short. That’s how it goes. It’s part of the game. You just have to take it all in, pick yourself up afterwards and keep moving.”

Although Yelich spent over a month on the injured list with a lower back strain early in the season and later tested positive for COVID-19, Stearns said the 29-year-old outfielder wasn’t dealing with any physical limitations down the stretch.

This marked Yelich’s second straight disappointing year. He hit just .205 with 12 homers and 22 RBIs in 58 games during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, though many star players struggled that year.

“We have to do everything we can to help Christian get closer to where we were in 2018 and 2019,” Stearns said. “I don’t think it is realistic to hold that level of production up. Those were two MVP-caliber years. But clearly he wasn’t right this year and he wasn’t right last year either. There may be different reasons in each of those two years why we couldn’t quite get it going, but it should be a priority for the organization.”

Yelich had a career-low .373 slugging percentage this season as he hit ground balls more often than he has in the past. His slugging percentage was .430 last year, .671 in 2019 and .598 in 2018.

Yelich still has good plate discipline, as evidenced by his 70 walks that resulted in a .362 on-base percentage this season.

“There are still a lot of really positive underpinnings here,” Stearns said. “He’s hitting the ball plenty hard enough to hit for power. So I don’t think the power has necessarily disappeared. Clearly, getting the ball in the air on a consistent basis has diminished and I think that’s something that Christian is certainly aware of and is open to working on.”

The Brewers ranked 12th out of 30 major league teams in scoring this season without getting much from Yelich. That was good enough for Milwaukee to go 95-67 and win the NL Central title, thanks largely to a starting rotation featuring All-Star right-handers Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff and Freddy Peralta.

Milwaukee has reached the playoffs a franchise-record four straight times but hasn’t reached the World Series since 1982.

“With some of Christian’s struggles this year, he still helped and contributed to a 95-win team,” Stearns said. “I think that’s important to note. The fate of the Milwaukee Brewers is not on Christian Yelich’s shoulders. It’s not exclusively on one person. We’re all involved in this, everyone in the organization is involved with this, and we all take our share of ownership.”

Brewers one loss from elimination following Atlanta's Game 3 win

ATLANTA (AP) — Joc Pederson kept enhancing his “Joctober” nickname with a three-run, pinch-hit homer and the Atlanta Braves shut down Milwaukee once again, beating the Brewers 3-0 on Monday to take a 2-1 edge in the NL Division Series.

In a matchup dominated by pitching, Ian Anderson and the Braves bullpen combined on a five-hitter and won by a 3-0 score for the second straight game.

Boosted by shortstop Dansby Swanson’s athletic defense, Atlanta can try to reach its second straight NL Championship Series when it hosts Game 4 on Tuesday.

Pederson’s homer in the fifth inning was his second of the series. Each drive came as a pinch-hitter against Adrian Houser. Pederson singled as a pinch-hitter in his only other at-bat in this series, and has driven in four of Atlanta’s seven runs.

Pederson has hit 11 postseason home runs overall and helped the Los Angeles Dodgers win the World Series last year with his longballs. He then signed as a free agent with the Chicago Cubs in the winter and was traded to Atlanta in July.

Since winning the opening game of the series, the NL Central champion Brewers have not scored in 19 consecutive innings. They were 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position in this loss.

Anderson was dominant for the NL East champion Braves, allowing three hits over five innings with no walks and six strikeouts. Will Smith, the fourth Braves reliever, pitched a perfect ninth for his second save of the series.

Milwaukee starter Freddy Peralta pitched four scoreless innings and was pulled for a pinch-hitter when the Brewers threatened in the fifth.

Houser gave up singles to Travis d’Arnaud and Swanson to open the fifth. Pederson, hitting for Anderson, pulled a high fastball deep into the right-field seats for a 3-0 lead.

Adam Duvall made a crucial baserunning mistake when he tried to advance from first to second as Austin Riley tried to score from third on d’Arnaud’s flyball in the second. Left fielder Christian Yelich nailed Duvall for the third out before Riley crossed the plate, costing Atlanta a run.

Milwaukee center fielder Lorenzo Cain, running at full speed, crashed into the wire fence as he tried to catch Duvall’s drive in the fourth. Cain held the ball in his glove before hitting the ground and losing control. Cain stayed down as Duvall raced to third with the two-out triple.

Cain remained in the game after a visit from manager Craig Counsell and a trainer. Peralta struck out Eddie Rosario to end the inning.

The Brewers hit only .183 in the first two games of the series, including a 3-0 loss in Game 2. Counsell made one lineup change, inserting Luis Urías at third base for Eduardo Escobar.

The Brewers couldn’t score in the fifth after putting runners on second and third with no outs. Urías, hit by a pitch, moved to third on a double by Omar Narváez.

Anderson escaped when Cain’s sharp grounder was stopped by a diving Swanson, who held the baserunners before throwing to first. Urías was caught in a rundown on pinch-hitter Daniel Vogelbach’s grounder to third base, and Kolten Wong lined out to Freddie Freeman at first base to end the inning.

Swanson turned an acrobatic double play to end the eighth after Luke Jackson walked Jace Peterson and gave up a one-out single to Willy Adames.

Fried sharp, Braves blank Brewers 3-0 to tie NLDS at 1-all

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Max Fried pitched six sharp innings and Atlanta’s bullpen held on after manager Brian Snitker’s quick hook, sending the Braves over the Milwaukee Brewers 3-0 to tie their NL Division Series at a game apiece.

The Brewers brought the tying run to the plate in each of the last three innings but couldn't get a key hit.

Austin Riley homered and Ozzie Albies hit an RBI double for the Braves, who bounced back after losing 2-1 in Game 1.

Fried struck out nine, allowed three hits and didn’t walk anybody.

The best-of-five series heads to Atlanta for Game 3 on Monday.

Packers hopeful Alexander can avoid season-ending surgery

The Green Bay Packers are hoping 2020 Pro Bowl cornerback Jaire Alexander’s injured shoulder will heal on its own rather than needing season-ending surgery.

Alexander was injured during the third quarter of a 27-17 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Packers coach Matt LaFleur ruled out Alexander and center Josh Myers (hand) for Sunday’s game at Cincinnati.

The Packers are expected to start Kevin King and rookie first-round pick Eric Stokes at cornerback with Chandon Sullivan in the slot. King missed the last two games with a concussion but was a full participant at Friday’s practice.

Braves, Brewers spurred to playoffs by bold midseason deals

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Freddie Freeman and the Atlanta Braves left spring training with high hopes following three straight NL East titles.

Then star outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. tore the ACL in his right knee, and it fell on the front office to get underwhelming Atlanta the help it needed.

The Braves hadn’t been above .500 all season when general manager Alex Anthopoulos essentially acquired an entirely new outfield at the trade deadline. Those moves helped Atlanta surge to another NL East crown and a Division Series matchup starting Friday with the NL Central champion Milwaukee Brewers, who benefited from their own roster adjustments.

“Getting those pieces kind of just gave us that boost of energy to make it,” said Freeman, the Braves’ All-Star first baseman and 2020 NL MVP.

Whether it was Jorge Soler, Adam Duvall and Joc Pederson to the Braves, or Willy Adames to Milwaukee, both clubs had to shake up their fortunes by changing the lineups in order to punch a fourth consecutive playoff ticket.

“Both teams have made additions that have helped their respective teams,” Brewers president of baseball operations David Stearns said. “We started a little bit earlier than most teams in making some of those decisions and some of those acquisitions.”

Milwaukee was below .500 when it acquired shortstop Adames from the Tampa Bay Rays on May 21. The Brewers went 74-44 after his arrival. Adames batted .285 with 20 home runs, 58 RBIs and an .886 OPS, leading the team with 3.9 wins above replacement, per FanGraphs, despite playing just 99 games after the trade.

“I don’t think I did anything crazy or anything special,” Adames said. “I just come to the field every day just to play the game the right way, just to have fun and enjoy this because this is what we live for.”

Rowdy Tellez came over from Toronto and provided the Brewers stability at first base. Hunter Strickland, designated for assignment by the Los Angeles Angels, became a key part of Milwaukee’s bullpen. Eduardo Escobar arrived just before the trade deadline and is one of the Brewers’ top hitters.

The Braves didn’t seem to have any major holes in the lineup until its entire opening day outfield fell apart. Promising rookie center fielder Cristian Pache struggled and got hurt, left fielder Marcell Ozuna was arrested on assault charges in late May following an altercation with his wife and hasn’t returned, and Acuña suffered a season-ending injury in early July.

“We were just treading water all year, kind of playing .500, couple games under .500 all year,” Freeman recalled.

Pederson was the first reinforcement, acquired from the Chicago Cubs on July 15. Two weeks later, Anthopoulos added three more outfielders: Duvall, Soler and Eddie Rosario.

Duvall and Soler have been especially productive, with Duvall clubbing 16 homers and Soler adding 14 in 55 games each down the stretch.

That helped Atlanta go 36-19 after the July 31 trade deadline.

“We’ve been mixing and matching all year,” Freeman said. “It’s been an absolute grind. I think that’s what’s so special about it this year is because I felt like we’ve been grinding all year, trying to figure it out.”

Trea Turner slam, solo HR; Kershaw hurt, Dodgers beat Brewers

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Trea Turner hit a grand slam and solo home run as the Los Angeles Dodgers extended the NL West race for at least another day, rallying past the Milwaukee Brewers 8-6 after starter Clayton Kershaw got hurt.

Pinch-hitter Matt Beaty launched a tiebreaking homer in the seventh inning to help the defending World Series champions maintain their increasingly slim bid for a ninth consecutive division title. San Francisco has clinched at least a tie for the title and reduced its magic number to one. The Giants lead Los Angeles by two games.

The Dodgers trailed the NL Central champion Brewers 5-1 after three innings, but came back to win their 13th in a row at home. Kershaw exited his start with left forearm discomfort in the second inning.

Urias homers but Brewers fall to Cardinals

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Dylan Carlson homered twice, once from each side of the plate, and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Milwaukee Brewers 4-3.

Carlson’s homers made a winner out of J.A. Happ, who entered the game 0-3 in his last five starts against the Brewers. Happ gave up 3 runs and struck out 9 in 6 1/3 innings to improve his record to 10-8. It was his longest outing since St. Louis acquired him from the Minnesota Twins on July 30.

Batting from the left side, Carlson ambushed a 93-mph pitch from Milwaukee reliever Miguel Sánchez for a two-run homer to give the Cardinals a 4-3 lead in the sixth. Sánchez took the loss.

Luis Urias homered for Milwaukee, while Keston Hiura drove in a run in his first game after being recalled from Triple-A.

The Brewers lost 2 of 3 from the Cardinals in the series. They will now head to Los Angeles to face the Dodgers in the final series of the regular season.

Bucks' Antetokounmpo feeling fine but monitoring his knee

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo says he feels fine as he prepares for the Milwaukee Bucks’ title defense but will be careful with the left knee that he hyperextended during the championship run. Antetokounmpo missed the final two games of the Eastern Conference finals after hurting his knee but returned to earn MVP honors in the NBA Finals. He scored 50 points in a title-clinching Game 6 victory over the Phoenix Suns.

“I’m good to go,” Antetokounmpo said Monday. “But if I feel like I’m in pain again or whatever the case might be, I have to listen to my body. When you feel pain, it’s your body telling you that it’s protecting you, that you can’t go anymore. I’ve played through pain. I don’t think now is the time to risk that. It’s too early in the season.

“But at the end of the day, I feel good physically, mentally. I’ll do whatever I have to do to be 100%.”

The two-time MVP says he still has plenty of incentive even after leading the Bucks to their first championship since 1971.

“Are we satisfied?” Antetokounmpo asked. “I’m not satisfied. I’m not even close to being satisfied. That’s the tone we’ve got to set as a team. And as a leader of this team, that’s the tone that I’m going to set. We understand that teams are coming for us, but we’re going to be ready.”