MILWAUKEE – Eric Sogard bailed out All-Star closer Josh Hader by hitting his first career walkoff home run, a two-run shot that lifted the Milwaukee Brewers over the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-6 on Saturday night.
After Hader walked five of six batters in the top of the ninth to blow a one-run lead, Sogard connected off Richard Rodriguez (0-2) with no outs in the bottom of the inning. Jace Peterson was on first following a leadoff walk.
“Crazy back and forth. Something you probably won’t see again out of Hader, kind of a fluke thing," Sogard said. "Happy to be able to pick him up, since he picks us up so many extra times.
“I’m never up there trying to hit home runs. I obviously put a good swing on it, put a barrel on it, obviously right launch angle and what-not, it’s going to go."
Milwaukee was leading 5-4 when Hader took the mound in the ninth. He walked Erik Gonazalez, struck out Cole Tucker, and then issued free passes to Kevin Newman, Josh Bell, Jacob Stallings and Adam Frazier. His final nine pitches missed the strike zone, and he was replaced by Devin Williams (2-1), who promptly got out of the inning.
Entering Saturday, the left-handed Hader was 7-for-7 in save opportunities and had not allowed a run or a hit all season.
“I wasn’t missing too, too bad on many, but obviously you start struggling, you start throwing balls, you slow yourself down and you also slow the umpire down," Hader said. "The game just slows down. Realistically, it speeds up, but you get into that turtle speed when things just aren’t clicking right.”
With Pittsburgh leading 4-3 in the eighth, Pirates left-hander Nik Turley gave up a leadoff double to Christian Yelich and hit Keston Hiura with a pitch before facing three consecutive pinch-hitters. Turley retired Jedd Gyorko, who had homered twice in the Brewers’ 9-1 drubbing of Pittsburgh on Friday, and Ryan Braun, who homered once on Friday.
Avisail Garcia's ground ball stayed just inside third base and went to the wall, scoring Yelich and Hiura.
“That was an interesting three half-innings to close the game,” Stallings said. “It stinks.”
Yelich hit a 460-foot home run and Orlando Arcia also connected for Milwaukee. Bell homered for Pittsburgh, his first since Aug. 5. All three were solo shots.
Pirates rookie JT Brubaker made his fourth career start and turned in his longest outing. He struck out six over five innings, giving up two runs and three hits.
Brewers left-hander Brett Anderson gave up four runs and nine hits in five innings.
SWING AND A MISS
Luis Urias tried to dump an ice cooler over Sogard's head while his teammate conducted a postgame interview, but slipped on the batter's circle and slammed to the ground. He got up laughing and jogged away.
Pirates: Added RHP Carson Fulmer, claimed Monday off waivers from the Tigers, to the active roster and reinstated RHP Kyle Crick (right shoulder/lat muscle strain) from the IL. RHP Nick Mears and INF Will Craig were optioned to the alternate training site.
Brewers: Braun was scratched from the lineup with low-back tightness. Peterson took his place. Braun pinch hit in the eighth.
Pirates manager Derek Shelton thinks Stallings deserves a Gold Glove for his work behind the plate.
“If he’s not at the top of the list, I think people are missing it,” Shelton said. “I don’t think anybody’s caught better, I don’t think anybody’s blocked better, I’d be hard pressed that anybody’s thrown the ball better. And I think he’s carrying that consistency into his at-bats.”
Stallings entered Saturday hitting .409 (18 for 44) in his last 15 games, raising his season average from .118 to .328.
Pirates LHP Steven Brault (0-1, 4.80 ERA) faces Brewers RHP Brandon Woodruff (2-2, 3.19 ERA) in game three of the four-game series. Woodruff, 27, and his wife, Jonie, are expecting their first child — a daughter, Kyler Elise — who is due Sept. 4.
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