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.
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. It went into the outfield, and Gomez sailed across home plate as a wild throw home went awry.
Morgan was mobbed by teammates near the mound after the latest dramatic finish for baseball's best home team at raucous Miller Park 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 face NL Central nemesis St. Louis after the wild-card Cardinals beat Philadelphia 1-0 in Game 5 of their series Friday night. Milwaukee will open at home against St. Louis on Sunday.
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.
Willie Bloomquist drove in the tying run with a safety squeeze, but Arizona was unable to forge ahead against closer John Axford.
"This was a great baseball game today. 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," Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
Morgan was a critical addition for the Brewers this year and had several clutch hits, winning fans along the way. But he wasn't having a particularly productive series until his big moment in the deciding game.
"He's been getting big hits all year," Braun said. "He enjoys the moment."
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