MILWAUKEE (AP) — A three-run sixth inning for the struggling Milwaukee Brewers against Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw set up reliever Josh Hader’s return to the mound following an emotional week.
The embattled, contrite reliever received a warm ovation from the crowd. The Brewers finally ended up getting a win.
Christian Yelich’s tying homer off Kershaw opened the pivotal sixth, and Milwaukee stopped its seven-game losing streak by beating Los Angeles 4-2 on Saturday night.
“It was nice to snap that streak. I feel like you just need … one just to get some positive vibe back on the team,” Yelich said.
For Hader, it was his first appearance since the reliever’s racist and homophobic tweets surfaced during the All-Star Game. Hader, who has apologized for the years-old social media messages, was applauded by the crowd after being introduced before the top of the seventh, with many fans at Miller Park standing.
The left-hander fanned four over two innings, striking out the side in the eighth.
“It means a lot, having the Milwaukee support, just knowing that they know my true character and just forgive me for my past, because that’s not who I am today,” Hader said.
Hader’s work highlighted five scoreless innings from the Milwaukee bullpen, though closer Corey Knebel provided a couple of nervous moments in the ninth.
Knebel allowed a two-out single to Logan Forsythe, bringing up the potential tying run in slugger Manny Machado.
Just the kind of big spot made for Machado, who was acquired from the Baltimore Orioles during the All-Star break. But Machado bounced out harmlessly to third to end the game, and Knebel got his 12th save.
The Brewers’ bats caught up to Kershaw in the sixth, when Yelich led off with a first-pitch homer for a 2-all tie. Another run scored on an error, and Keon Broxton added an RBI triple.
Kershaw (3-5) allowed seven hits and four runs in six innings, though only one was earned. He struck out five in taking his first loss since April 25, a span of eight starts.
“I pitched OK. I can think of two or three pitches I want back,” Kershaw said.
Chris Taylor drove in the Dodgers’ two runs with a bases-loaded single in the first.
Milwaukee rookie Corbin Burnes (1-0) picked up his first major league win with two scoreless innings, bailing starter Chase Anderson out of a bases-loaded, nobody-out jam in the fifth. Kershaw was thrown out at the plate trying to score on a wild pitch before Burnes struck out All-Star Matt Kemp and got cleanup hitter Max Muncy to fly out.
“It was a brilliant inning. It’s a tough inning to come into for just his third big league outing but he did a heck of a job,” manager Craig Counsell said.
It was an up-and-down night for the Dodgers on defense. Machado made a spectacular play at shortstop to hold the Brewers to one run in the sixth after they put runners on the corners with one out. Machado went deep into the hole to his right, took a couple of steps and threw off his back leg to first, with Cody Bellinger scooping the ball to just get the speedy Broxton.
Bellinger made a couple more good plays at first to prevent hits. But a run scored in the sixth when a high chopper by Manny Pina bounced under the glove of Muncy at third and into left field.
“We’ve got to be better for him,” Roberts said about the defensive lapse with Kershaw on the mound.
“Didn’t think I gave up a lot of hard contact tonight for the most part. There’s some good things in there, but you know, ultimately, we lost.” — Kershaw.
Dodgers: 3B Justin Turner (upper right leg) is scheduled to return to the lineup Sunday. He struck out as a pinch hitter in the eighth.
Brewers: OF-1B Ryan Braun went 1 for 3 and scored two runs in his return from a stint on the 10-day disabled list for a strained back. … OF-1B Eric Thames (right hamstring) is getting closer to returning after taking batting practice for a third straight day and running, Counsell said.
Dodgers: Start a left-hander for the third straight game, with Alex Wood (5-5) taking the hill for the first time after the All-Star break.
Brewers: LHP Brent Suter (8-6) makes his first career start against the Dodgers.