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Gritty D-backs tip their caps to Brewers

Gritty D-backs tip their caps to Brewers

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Gritty D-backs tip their caps to Brewers
MILWAUKEE -- It took everything a talented Brewers team could muster into extra innings of Friday's decisive Game 5 to finally shake the D-backs, a team that turned heads around baseball with a remarkable rise to the top of the National League West and a fierce battle in the NL Division Series.

If there could be a fitting way for this 2011 season to end in defeat for Arizona, this was it: scratching and clawing to the last at-bat against a worthy adversary in a 3-2 defeat.

"This was a great baseball game today," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "I'm not happy to be on this end of it, yet I'm proud of my team, and they played true to the way they played all year. And the Brewers, they cashed in on their opportunities, what can we say?

"We had tons of opportunities, left 11 guys on, 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position. Give the Brewers credit, they shut us down."

After such a tremendous finish to the series with the drama playing down to the very last moments, the D-backs simply had to hand it to their opponents for getting it done in the end.

"It was a great series," D-backs general manager Kevin Towers said after Milwaukee claimed a 3-2 victory in 10 innings Friday. "That's the way it probably should have ended -- it was tight. When we came into the series, people thought the clubs were evenly matched, and we end up going extra innings and get beat by one run. If there's a way to go down, that's probably the way to go down."

The Brewers have all the tools for a strong postseason run, and they had to empty out the toolbox to get past the D-backs.

Milwaukee did it by the skin of its teeth, too, scratching together a run off D-backs closer J.J. Putz in the 10th inning after the D-backs had manufactured a run to tie the game in the ninth and send it to extra innings.

In short, it was everything a Game 5 should be.

"All the emotions were out there, and all the players picked their game up a little bit," said D-backs center fielder Chris Young, whose spectacular over-the-shoulder catch in the sixth inning kept his squad in position to make a ninth-inning comeback. "The Brewers played a good game. They happened to score a run before we did. ... It's one of those games where somebody had to give up a run, and Nyjer [Morgan] put a good at-bat out there."

As the Brewers celebrated wildly in the infield after Morgan's single up the middle scored Carlos Gomez from second, D-backs veteran shortstop Willie Bloomquist stopped at the third-base line and greeted outfielders Justin Upton and Young, obviously letting them know that they'd done all they could against a tough opponent.

Even in the understandable hush of the D-backs' clubhouse amid the disappointment of a special season coming to an end, Bloomquist knew his team had left everything out there against a team that deserves to advance to the NL Championship Series.

"It's a heck of a baseball game out there by both teams," Bloomquist said. "Great series. We just came up a little bit short."

John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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