Nyjer Morgan’s 10th-inning RBI single sends Brewers to NLCS

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MILWAUKEE — Nyjer Morgan denounced his “haters.” He suggested he might celebrate by taking a nice, relaxing bath. Then he erupted with a cackle.

All while wearing a helmet in his postgame news conference.

After delivering an RBI single in the 10th inning to beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 3-2 Friday in Game 5 and send the Milwaukee Brewers to the NL championship series, Morgan was taking it all in and letting his oversized, oddball personality out.

“It’s a lot, man,” Morgan said. “Basically just everything that I’ve had to overcome, just the stuff that people go out there and perceive about me, everything. Just all my haters. I just wanted to show them that I can play this game, even though I have a fun, bubbly personality. I still come to win, and I’m a winner.”

The Brewers would expect nothing less from their rabble-rousing, run-producing force who often refers to himself by the name of his self-created alter ego, “Tony Plush.” Morgan might have worn out his welcome with other teams, but he’s winning over the Brewers and their fans.

“He’s a joy to have, I’ll tell you,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. “I don’t care about all the little issues we have. This guy, I love him on this team. I like him as a really nice young man. He came through big, again, when we needed him.”

With the game tied at 2 in the 10th and Carlos Gomez on second base with one out, Morgan hit a grounder up the middle and Diamondbacks closer J.J. Putz tried in vain to stop it with his leg. The ball went into center field and Gomez sailed across home plate as a wild throw home went awry.

Gomez was surprised when one of the first people to greet him on the field at raucous Miller Park was Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio.

“You have to be smart,” Gomez said. “You have to get to the boss first, and then your teammates.”

Morgan was mobbed by the Brewers near the mound after the latest dramatic finish for baseball’s best home team gave Milwaukee its first victory in a postseason series since it won the AL pennant in 1982.

“We’ve heard all about 1982, so it’s nice to start our own legacy,” slugger Ryan Braun said.

Next, the Brewers move on to face Friday night’s winner of Game 5 between St. Louis and Philadelphia. The NLCS begins Sunday, with either the Phillies or Brewers opening at home.

Arizona did all it could to extend its surprising season. Center fielder Chris Young made a jaw-dropping catch in the sixth and the Diamondbacks had one last comeback left in the ninth.

“I’m not ready to go home yet,” Young said. “I’m not hanging my head because I think we could have done anything different. I’m hanging my head just because I want to keep playing and I don’t want the season to be over yet.”

Willie Bloomquist drove in the tying run with a safety squeeze, but Arizona was unable to forge ahead against closer John Axford.

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