MILWAUKEE -- Ryan Braun was about 75 feet shy of his first career inside-the-park home run when gravity took over. His tumble cost the Brewers a go-ahead run, and cost Braun a homer in his bid for the franchise's first 30/30 season in 41 years. The Brewers stumbled as a team, too. An 8-3 loss to the Cardinals was Milwaukee's second in as many nights, and closed the gap between the top teams in the National League Central to 8 1/2 games. St. Louis was leading in the bottom of the third inning, 2-1, when Braun batted with a runner at first base and one out. He hit a line drive that struck an angled portion of the center-field wall and kicked along the warning track while two Cardinals outfielders gave chase.
Braun appeared to read the ball as a home run off his bat, because he didn't begin sprinting until he reached first base. He lost his helmet between second and third, then stumbled between third and home and took a headfirst dive in the basepath. He was an easy out after that. "It was a big part of the game," said Cardinals pitcher Jake Westbrook. "To pitch to [Prince] Fielder with nobody on, only giving up that one run, that's a big part of the ballgame. Especially it being tied right there. It was fortunate for us that it happened." Braun made a quick exit from Miller Park after the game and did not speak to reporters. His neighbor in Malibu, Calif., former NBA star Reggie Miller, was in town Wednesday night. Miller attended the game and is shown on replays reacting humorously to Braun's effort. Braun already has crossed the 30-stolen-base threshold, but remained stuck on 25 home runs. The only 30/30 player in franchise history is third baseman Tommy Harper, who hit 31 homers with 38 steals in 1970, the Brewers' first season in Milwaukee. "It was a muggy night, very hot and humid the first six or seven innings," Brewers infielder Jerry Hairston said. "Maybe Brauny lost his footing, maybe a little bit winded. It just didn't happen for us tonight."