MILWAUKEE -- The four-day All-Star break did little to slow the surging Brewers.
Jimmy Nelson pitched into the seventh inning and Travis Shaw hit a tiebreaking home run in the eighth for a 3-2 Brewers win over the Phillies at Miller Park on Saturday. Milwaukee now has won 11 of its last 13 games and is a season-high 11 games over .500. The win also maintains the Brewers' 5 1/2-game lead atop the National League Central.
"We had a lot of momentum going into the break, and for us to be able to take a few days off then come back and continue that momentum is huge, especially for a younger team," Nelson said. "We're playing with a lot of energy, and who knows what can happen? Who knows what we can do?"
Hernan Perez also homered for the Brewers, as Nelson logged his team-leading 11th quality start before the Brewers' stout bullpen took over. Oliver Drake got the final out of the seventh inning, Jacob Barnes induced a rally-killing double play in the eighth, and Corey Knebel got his 16th save by stranding the tying run at second base in the ninth. Brewers relievers own a 2.05 ERA since June 20, tops in the Majors in that span.
Along the way, Shaw provided the winning margin with his 20th home run, a solo shot off Phillies reliever Joaquin Benoit leading off the eighth inning.
"That's a big spot, for sure," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "I know [the Phillies] have struggled as a team, but the back of their bullpen is effective. [Pat] Neshek had a great inning. He was tough. Benoit is a veteran that's been doing it really well for a long time. Travis is locked in. Consistent is the right word for it, that's for sure."
Nelson allowed two earned runs on three hits and two walks in 6 2/3 innings of a good pitchers' duel with the Phillies' Aaron Nola, who surrendered seven hits, including Perez's home run in six innings, but limited the damage to two runs. Phillies center fielder Odubel Herrera stayed hot with two hits, including his second home run of the series.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Odubel answers: After Perez pulled a Nola fastball for a solo home run and a 2-1 Brewers lead in the sixth, Herrera promptly tied the game at 2-2 when he connected with a Nelson curveball in the seventh and hit it a Statcast-projected 413 feet to right field. Including his two-run shot on Friday night, Herrera has homered in three consecutive games for the first time in his career. Herrera hopes it eventually returns him to the top of the lineup. He has been hitting anywhere from fifth to seventh the past few weeks.
"I think that's my spot," Herrera said of the leadoff spot. "That's my game. I think in that position, I can help the team win."
Two for one: Brewers setup man Barnes found trouble in the eighth when pinch-hitter Brock Stassi boosted his .277 on-base percentage by working a walk, and Daniel Nava followed with another. With two on and one out, Freddy Galvis followed with a line drive that had an 85 percent hit probability, according to Statcast™. Unfortunately for the Phillies, it was hit right at second baseman Jonathan Villar, who fed the ball to shortstop Orlando Arcia at second base to double-up Stassi and end the inning.
"At some point, you catch a little break, where something actually gets hit right at someone. That was one of those times," Barnes said. "It was good to turn around and see there was a guy there. That was a nice little relief."
"The past two games have been awesome. The crowd has been electric. We can't ask for much more than what they're giving right now." -- Shaw, on getting back-to-back wins while the Brewers honor the 1982 American League championship team
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Knebel's strikeout streak rolled along with a pair of whiffs on Saturday. The hard-throwing right-hander has at least one strikeout in each of his 45 appearances this season, already a single-season Major League record. Including his final game of 2016, Knebel has a strikeout in 46 consecutive relief appearances, three shy of Aroldis Chapman's all-time record spanning seasons.
WHAT'S NEXT Phillies: Right-hander Jeremy Hellickson (5-5, 4.49 ERA) will take the mound in the series finale beginning at 2:10 p.m. ET on Sunday. Hellickson is 2-1 with a 2.74 ERA in his career vs. the Brew Crew, allowing seven earned runs on 19 hits over four starts since 2011.
Brewers:Matt Garza (4-4, 3.59) will face the Phillies for the first time since July 2015 when he takes the mound at 1:10 p.m. CT on Sunday. The right-hander is 2-2 with a 2.32 ERA in eight career starts against Philadelphia and is coming off his best start of the season from before the All-Star break.