MIAMI — Ryan Braun honored injured teammate Christian Yelich the past two days by wearing his No. 22 jersey underneath his own.
Braun then put on a Yelich-like performance Thursday, hitting a two-run homer that helped the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Miami Marlins 3-2 to complete a four-game sweep that extended their winning streak to seven.
“I threw up the double deuces for him,” Braun said of his message to Yelich as he crossed home plate. “He texted me, “It’s about time you hit a homer.’ Forty-fifth homer hit in this jersey this year.”
Milwaukee matched its longest winning streak of the season to remain tied with the Chicago Cubs for the second NL wild card. At 78-68, the Brewers are 10 games over .500 for the first time since mid-June.
The Cubs, powered by Yu Darvish’s season-high 14 strikeouts, beat San Diego 4-1 on Thursday to keep pace.
“What’s within our picture is keep playing well,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “The other stuff doesn’t matter right now. Keep playing like the past week we’re going to put ourselves in a good spot.”
Yelich broke his right kneecap on a foul ball Tuesday night. Before the game, the Brewers said the reigning NL MVP won’t need surgery but is done for the year.
Braun, bothered by a bad back for much of the season, broke a 1-all tie in the third with a two-run homer off Caleb Smith (8-10).
It was Braun’s 19th home run this season and the first of his career at Marlins Park.
“I didn’t know that, but they are all big at this time of year,” Braun said. “The team is playing so well. So many guys contributing.”
Gio González and four relievers retired Miami’s final 18 batters after Lewis Brinson’s RBI single in the fourth.
González allowed two runs and seven hits in four innings. He is 0-2 in 12 starts since beating Philadelphia on May 15.
Freddy Peralta (6-3) struck out three in two innings. Josh Hader fanned two batters for his 31st save in 37 chances.
Miami went 1-6 on its homestand, dropped to an NL-worst 51-95 and is headed to its first 100-loss season since 2013.
Smith (8-10) gave up three runs and six hits in 5⅔ innings.
“I thought I got better as the game went on,” Smith said. “I’ve just got to be better early.”
Mike Moustakas’ sacrifice fly in the first was offset by Miguel Rojas’ RBI single in the bottom half.
The Brewers’ blueprint for bullpen use played out perfectly. Counsell didn’t need to call for a reliever in the middle of an inning. Ray Black, Drew Pomeranz, Peralta and Hader started and finished their innings. The relievers fanned 10.
“They all did an outstanding job,” Counsell said. “If we can get them the right rest, we can get swing and miss stuff from them. Great day for the ‘pen.”
Gonzalez got his first hit of the season and scored ahead of Braun’s homer. The Marlins unsuccessfully appealed that the Brewers pitcher failed to touch second base on Braun’s home run trot.
“I know I haven’t been on the bases but I’m 100 percent sure I touched that bag,” Gonzalez said. “It was a backhanded slap is how I felt. But it’s OK. I can smile about it.”
Brewers right-hander Adrian Houser (6-5, 3.59) is set to start Friday’s series opener at St. Louis against the NL Central leaders. The Cardinals counter with right-hander Adam Wainwright (11-9, 4.16).