Corbin Burnes outduels Sandy Alcantara; Devin Williams hangs on for a 1-0 win to keep the Brewers' hopes alive

Both Corbin Burnes and Sandy Alcantara put on a full display of their dominance Friday night at American Family Field, but in the battle of the defending Cy Young Award winner against his successor, the past was ever so slightly better than the present.

In a game in which there was no margin for error – both because of the pitcher opposite him and his team’s precarious position in the wild card standings – Burnes was nearly flawless. He matched Alcantara, the presumptive 2022 Cy Young winner, pitch-for-pitch over eight innings.

The difference, though: Alcantara couldn’t match his counterpart zero-for-zero.

On a night when neither offense stood much of a chance, a solitary run scratched across by Milwaukee in the sixth inning held up as Burnes delivered a marquee performance to lead the way in a 1-0 win over the Miami Marlins.

"That's what great players do," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "They step up and give you great performances when you need them most. That's exactly what Corbin did tonight."

The Brewers found themselves in what amounted to a must-win game following a crushing defeat the night before and a win by the Philadelphia Phillies. Milwaukee was staring at a 1½-game deficit for the last of three wild card spots with a loss Friday night. With Alcantara opposing them on the mound, that was a real possibility.

Box score: Brewers 1, Marlins 0

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Brewers starter Corbin Burnes delivered a gem Friday night, tossing eight shutout innings of four-hit ball with seven strikeouts and no walks against the Marlins.
Brewers starter Corbin Burnes delivered a gem Friday night, tossing eight shutout innings of four-hit ball with seven strikeouts and no walks against the Marlins.

"You never want to put that pressure on yourself of ‘we have to win tonight’ until you absolutely have to and things dictate it," Burnes said. "I think we have enough games left and with what’s going on with Philly, we have enough games left that we don’t have to put that kind of pressure on us."

Not a single Marlins runner reached scoring position against Burnes. They scratched across four hits, all singles, but Burnes erased a pair of those with immediate double plays. On a night Miami was jumping aggressively on Burnes’ cutter, he pivoted midway through and vexed the visitors with a heavy dose of sliders, curves and changeups.

"Even the first time through, we started off with a lot of sliders and curveballs to the right-handers," Burnes said. "It’s just how the game played out. The cutter was good tonight but we didn’t need it that much with the usage of the breaking stuff. Tonight was probably the lowest usage of the cutter."

Burnes struck out seven without allowing a walk. Four of those punch outs came against the first eight hitters of the game, and then he went 11 batters in a row without one but made a living on weak grounders.

The Brewers manufactured a run against Alcantara in the sixth when Garrett Mitchell singled, stole second base, advanced to third on a Willy Adames single and scored on Rowdy Tellez’s deep fly ball.

There wasn't going to be much else against Alcantara. The Marlins ace lowered his season earned run average to 2.28 and tallied his league-high sixth complete game to push his innings total this year to 228⅔, by far the highest in baseball.

The Brewers put a runner in scoring position in the second and third innings but came up short, then stranded Mitchell after a one-out double in the eighth. That, along with the two hits in the sixth, accounted for all of Milwaukee's base runners on the night.

"Great pitcher, he obviously went a complete game and he’s just really, really good," Tellez said. "It comes down to the little things. Mitch had a great at-bat and Willy put together a good at-bat and we were able to get it done.

Said Burnes: "Whenever you win a baseball game, it’s fun, especially with the situation we’re in. We need wins. We did just enough tonight."

Burnes followed the Tellez sac fly by retiring the next six batters before walking off the mound and ending his evening at 103 pitches. The reigning Cy Young winner lobbied to go out for the ninth but his argument fell on deaf ears.

"He was done," Counsell said. "It's the same with Burnes and (Brandon Woodruff). Just knowing them well. We've had the conversation with Corbin 100 times, so you know what's going on."

Devin Williams took over in the ninth and made things murky.

The Brewers closer allowed a leadoff single to Lewin Diaz and walked the next batter, Jon Berti. After striking out Joey Wendle and Bryan De La Cruz, Williams walked Avisail Garcia to load the bases for Jesus Sanchez.

After falling behind in the count, 2-1, Williams spun off a pair of changeups that Sanchez swung through, and the Brewers escapes by a hair.

"Just keeping it exciting," Williams said. "Making sure everyone's locked in. It was good to be able to close it out."

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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Corbin Burnes outduels Sandy Alcantara in Brewers' 1-0 victory