Give the Milwaukee Brewers credit.
They fought to the end.
Three outs away from postseason elimination, they rallied to score three runs in the ninth inning and then scored twice in the 10th to steal a must-have game from the Arizona Diamondbacks, 6-5, at American Family Field on Monday night.
Hunter Renfroe was the hero, homering to lead off the ninth to provide the needed spark and then singling in the winning run in the 10th as the Brewers won their 10th game in walk-off fashion.
Box score: Brewers 6, Diamondbacks 5
Unfortunately for them, the comeback kept their postseason hopes alive for only another 10 minutes or so.
Philadelphia needed only to win to clinch the third and final wild-card spot in the National League, and shortly after the Brewers had emptied the field following a mild celebration the Phillies completed a 3-0 shutout of the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on the strength of a terrific start by Aaron Nola and three solo homers.
"It's bad news, because it means we weren't able to accomplish our goal," said manager Craig Counsell, whose team will have its streak of four consecutive playoff appearances snapped. "It's bad news."
Starter Brandon Woodruff was a little more philosophical in his take.
"It’s one of those bittersweet things," he said after turning in his 15th quality start. "We fought hard and got the win; we just needed a little bit of help. Obviously we were watching the game, but when Nola’s got a perfect game through seven or whatever, you give them credit.
"We’re still trying to celebrate these wins, man. They’re hard to come by and anytime you can get them you want to celebrate them. We’re a little disappointed. Felt like we might have let a few slip away that last series.
"But you know what? That’s part of baseball."
While Nola was taking a perfect game into the seventh inning and the Phillies were hitting consecutive homers in the eighth to gain some breathing room against the top team in the American League, Renfroe took Joe Mantiply's first pitch out to center in the ninth to trim the deficit to 4-2.
It was a jolt to say the least, considering the way the offense had sleepwalked through the opening eight innings.
Christian Yelich then reached on an error and with one out, advanced to second on a wild pitch. Kolten Wong following by walking.
Rowdy Tellez bounced out to move the runners to second and third and Victor Caratini ripped a shot at first baseman Christian Walker, who knocked the ball down but couldn't corral it.
Yelich scored and Wong did as well after initially hesitating rounding third base.
Mantiply was lifted for Reyes Moronta, and he finished the inning out.
Brad Boxberger (4-3) pitched the 10th and after a sacrifice bunt moved Cooper Hummel to third, UW-Milwaukee product Daulton Varsho ripped a run-scoring single to right to put the Diamondbacks right back in front.
On-brand for the last few days, Omar Narváez opened the bottom of the 10th with a walk against Reyes and Willy Adames singled to right to again tie it.
Renfroe then poked a single to left to drive in Narváez.
It was Renfroe's fifth walk-off hit, but the antics didn't last long as he and the rest of the team retreated to the home clubhouse, where the Phillies-Astros game was on TV.
Nola's terrific performance was being communicated to the dugout as the night progressed and the score of that game was flashed on the out-of-town scoreboard on the left-field fence, some 400 feet away, every half-inning.
The end finally came when Mauricio Dubon, a former Brewers prospect, capped a game, 12-pitch at-bat by flying out to center to punch the Phillies' ticket for the first time since 2011.
"We did our part and battled to the end here and found a way to win a game but obviously, it’s bittersweet when it ends up not meaning much because Philly took care of business," Yelich said. "It’s one of those things where we put ourselves in this position. We didn’t play well down the stretch. I didn’t play well down the stretch. It’s tough.
"We don’t really have anyone else to blame but ourselves."
Yelich's second homer in three games kicked off the scoring and the bottom of the second for the Brewers with team principal owner Mark Attanasio looking on from his seats near the home dugout and a sparse crowd of 18,612 in attendance.
It came off left-hander Tommy Henry, who'd allowed seven, five and five earned runs in his previous three starts entering Monday.
Then, almost on cue, Kyle Schwarber opened the Phillies' game with a first-pitch homer.
The Diamondbacks answered with a solo homer in the third when .169-hitting Hummel took Woodruff out to right-center.
If the name Hummel sounds familiar, that's because he was a Milwaukee farmhand, traded last July 28 along with another minor-leaguer in exchange for infielder Eduardo Escobar.
The homers stood as the lone hits for both teams until the fifth, when Corbin Carroll greeted Woodruff with a triple to right-center and one batter later was driven in by Sergio Alcántara.
Woodruff retired the final six batters he faced and finished at exactly 100 pitches having allowed the two hits and two runs along with a walk while striking out seven in six innings.
The quality start was the sixth straight for Woodruff and 15th overall.
Hoby Milner replaced Woodruff, Walker led off with a double and three batters later Alcántara homered to left-center to make it a 4-1 game.
Henry finished with 6⅓ innings (two-thirds from tying his career high) and allowed a season-low three hits, tied season lows with one run and one walk and struck out five over his 89-pitch effort.
To finish the season on the outside of the playoffs looking in certainly wasn't what president of baseball operations David Stearns envisioned when he assembled the team last offseason and complemented it this spring.
But after the best 50-game start in franchise history, the Brewers stumbled badly due to injuries, an offense overly reliant on the homer and a shaky bullpen was thinned a day before the trading deadline when Josh Hader was sent to San Diego.
"There's going to be stretches of the season when you play really well. Every team can point to that, but it's a 162-game season," Counsell said. "It's a test. You have to earn it over 162. It doesn't matter what your record is over a certain point. It's irrelevant. That's a baseball season. Nobody sat there at a certain point in the season and said we got it made. Not even close.
"That's how it works."
A 12-15 August followed by a 15-16 September-October then sealed their fate.
"Fifty games is a good start, but that’s why being a playoff team is so hard. You have to do it wire to wire," Yelich said. "You have to play so well. There are going to be hot streaks and cold streaks. You have to be able to weather those and lessen those cold streaks.
"I think what we did really well the last few years here was extend win streaks and create momentum, do things we could build on but for whatever reason, it didn’t work out that way this year. We couldn’t do it consistently. We had a lot of tough losses. There were all different kinds of losses.
"Those all add up over time, and they ended up costing us this year."
Our subscribers make this reporting possible. Please consider supporting local journalism by subscribing to the Journal Sentinel at jsonline.com/deal.
DOWNLOAD THE APP: Get the latest news, sports and more
This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Brewers beat Diamondbacks but are eliminated from postseason