Thames’ walk-off HR in 9th lifts Brewers over Rangers
MILWAUKEE (AP) — Eric Thames hit a game-ending homer to lift the Milwaukee Brewers to a 6-5 victory over the Texas Rangers on Friday night after Josh Hader blew a save opportunity for the fourth time this season.
Milwaukee opened a 5-2 lead with three runs in the seventh, but Logan Forsythe hit a two-run homer off newly acquired reliever Jake Faria in the eighth and Elvis Andrus’ solo shot off Hader tied it at 5 with one out in the ninth.
Hader (2-5) threw a season-high 44 pitches in 1 2/3 innings.
Enter Thames, who hit his 16th homer against Emmanuel Clase (0-1) with two out in the ninth. Thames was mobbed by his teammates at the plate after ending a game that lasted more than 4 hours.
Milwaukee earned its fourth straight win and moved within 2 1/2 games of NL Central-leading Chicago, which lost 5-2 at Cincinnati.
Hunter Pence also homered for Texas, which has dropped three in a row. Kolby Allard, who was acquired last week in a trade with Atlanta, allowed two runs and three hits in 4 1/3 innings in his Rangers debut after he was called up from Triple-A Nashville.
Milwaukee jumped in front on Ryan Braun’s two-out RBI double in the first, but Pence responded with a 449-foot drive off Gio Gonzalez in the fourth.
The Brewers had a 2-1 lead before the Rangers tied it again in the sixth. With the bases loaded after three consecutive two-out walks, Pence scampered home on Alex Claudio’s wild pitch, but Rougned Odor was cut down at the plate trying to come home on the same play.
Odor had four of Texas’ 10 walks. Pence walked twice.
YELICH OUT AGAIN
Milwaukee star Christian Yelich was held out for the third consecutive game due to nagging back soreness. The Brewers, who had Thursday off, had hoped the rest would allow the reigning NL MVP to play in the series opener.
“I think we’ve turned the corner a little bit,” manager Craig Counsell said. “Optimistic on the weekend, but not 100 percent.”
The Brewers promoted Hernan Perez from Triple-A San Antonio and optioned third baseman Travis Shaw to their top farm club. Perez started at shortstop. The team also designated right-hander Burch Smith for assignment.
The Rangers optioned outfielder Scott Heineman to Triple-A Nashville to make room for Allard. They also traded left-hander Miguel Del Pozo, who has spent this season at Nashville, to the Los Angeles Angels for cash considerations.
Rangers: Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Willie Calhoun both remained in the game after being hit in the upper back by Hader fastballs.
Brewers: RHP Zach Davies, on the injured list with back soreness, is improving, Counsell said. “Our goal is to test him pretty hard a couple times,” he said. “We don’t want him pitching with some discomfort. I think that’s hurt him in the past.” … RHP Brandon Woodruff (left oblique) played catch for the first time since going on the injured list last month.
Rangers: Pedro Payano (1-0, 3.45 ERA) will make his third major league start.
Brewers: Adrian Houser (4-5, 4.24 ERA) will make his ninth start of the season and first of his career against the Rangers. Houser is 0-5 with a 6.82 ERA as a starter this season.