Originally posted on Fox Sports Wisconsin  |  Last updated 10/9/11
MILWAUKEE -- At this point, it's not even the slightest bit surprising when Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder get it done for the Milwaukee Brewers. It's practically expected. Just as in the first game of the NL Division Series, the powerful 1-2 punch lifted the Brewers to a Game 1 win Sunday, 9-6 over the St. Louis Cardinals to take a 1-0 series lead in the NL championship series. "You can count on a couple runs from Braun and Fielder every game for the most part, or at least an opportunity to score a couple runs," Brewers starting pitcher Zack Greinke said. "It seems like right now every time it comes to the middle of the lineup there's an opportunity and they're just really good. Maybe the best three to four hitters in baseball right now." The deja vu came in the fifth inning, when Milwaukee scored six runs to take an 8-5 lead. After Corey Hart and Jerry Hairston Jr. reached base on back-to-back hits, Braun drove both in on a ground-rule double down the right field line, and Fielder followed with a towering home run to right field. The Brewers would score two more runs in the inning to tie a franchise record for runs in a single postseason inning. The 1982 Brewers scored six runs in an inning during Game 4 of the World Series, also against the Cardinals. "That was a nice inning there," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "It was nice for 'Braunie,' in the first inning with the two-run homer, but to score like we did there, that's outstanding." The Braun-Fielder heroics were reminiscent of Game 1 of the NLDS when Fielder homered to right with Braun on second base. Braun had doubled that time too, and Arizona Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson chose to not intentionally walk Fielder. La Russa made the same decision and it cost him too. What was perhaps most impressive of Braun and Fielder's contribution was just how quickly it changed the game. St. Louis had scored four runs in the last two innings to take a 5-2 lead, but Braun and Fielder needed just one pitch each to break the game wide open. "Whenever we do that, it's real awesome," said Fielder, who finished the day 1-for-3 with two RBIs and a walk. "It's real quick. It's just a good feeling because we were down there for a while. Obviously that doesn't feel good so whenever we're able to come back real quick, it's a little extra boost." The fifth-inning outburst overshadowed Braun's mammoth two-run homer -- estimated at 463 feet -- in the first inning that gave the Brewers an early lead. Braun, who went 2-for-4 with four RBIs and a walk Sunday, also hit a two-run shot in the first inning of Game 2 of the NLDS. Braun has hit plenty of big home runs in his career, many of them in 2011 alone, so game-changing hits like his own and Fielder's no longer come as a surprise. "We have an offense that is not necessarily dependent on the home run, but at times in the year we've relied on it," Braun said. "Whenever offensively you have multiple guys that can hit home runs it can happen quickly." It's hard to imagine what it must feel like for opponents when Braun and Fielder are doing their thing with such regularity, but Braun said he doesn't think it's intimidating to opponents, particularly one who knows quite well what the tandem is capable of. "When both of us are going good, it becomes far more difficult to pitch to us," Braun said. "Aside from that, I don't think it's going to be intimidating. (The Cardinals) are not going to be intimidated by anything." Still, when the potent pair is mashing the ball with such consistency, the Brewers are hard to beat. In the time Braun and Fielder have played together, they have homered in the same game 37 times. In those games, the Brewers are 28-9 and have won the last 16. With two home runs each and a combined 13 RBIs on 17 hits in the postseason, Braun and Fielder are doing exactly what fans and teammates have come to expect. "The goal, obviously, is always to contribute," Braun said. "I try not to get overly excited. It's only been six games to this point in the postseason. I feel like I've had pretty good at-bats, consistent at-bats. I've been able to contribute and we're winning, so it's always nice to be playing well and helping the team win."
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