Yasmani Grandal's bases-loaded walk off of Tyler Thornburg gave the Dodgers their fourth walk-off victory of the year and 2-1 comeback over the Brewers on Sunday at Dodger Stadium.
Kiké Hernandez's solo homer off Will Smith in the eighth inning, a 421-foot shot, tied the game and gave the utility man his first hit in nine games. The ball landed deep in the Dodgers' bullpen, where closer Kenley Jansen caught it and began using it for warmups.
The second opposite-field homer of Scooter Gennett's career had given the Brewers a 1-0 lead in the first, which they held for seven innings.
The offensive heroics came after strong outings from both starters on a hot day at Dodger Stadium. Matt Garza threw six scoreless innings on his second start since being activated from the DL, forcing eight groundouts and striking out two. That was only one run better than Dodgers starter Kenta Maeda, who threw 6 1/3 innings while striking out eight, the second highest total of his MLB career.
"We were losing when I had to get off the mound. The bullpen really did a good job and the team came back to win it, so I think overall it was a good day," Maeda said through an interpreter.
Garza threw his six innings on just 70 pitches, but was pulled in the top of the seventh as the Brewers turned to Jonathan Lucroy to pinch-hit with two men on. The move prompted the Dodgers to pull Maeda. The new matchup, Lucroy against Pedro Baez, went the Dodgers' way as Baez forced a 1-6-3 double play.
"It's nice to see [Garza] have some success, because we need him," Gennett said. "He's an important piece for us down the road."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Walk this way: Grandal's winning walk was that talk of both clubhouses, with Dodgers manager Dave Roberts lauding Grandal's overall plate discipline and the Brewers focused on Thornburg's 1-1 pitch. Catcher Martin Maldonado held it an extra moment for umpire Tim Timmons, who deemed it just off the edge of the plate. But Pitch f/x data from the game suggested similar pitches had been called strikes.
"A 1-1 pitch is the pitch that changes [the outcome of a plate appearance] most often," Thornburg said. "Obviously, I wanted that call. I've gotten that call plenty of times before. But it didn't make or break the AB."
Garza gets help: All three Brewers outfielders delivered assists for Garza in the early going. In the first inning, with runners at second and third with one out, Ryan Braun caught Adrian Gonzalez's shallow flyout and appeared surprised to see Chase Utley tag up and break for home. Even with an off-balance throw, Utley was out by several steps. In the third, center fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis took away a hit from Utley with a nice running catch, and right fielder Ramon Flores fielded a single and made a strong throw to third cut down Maeda for the inning-ending out.
"They came to play," Garza said. "When I made a mishap, they were there to clean up my mess." More >
Short innings needed: Through three innings, Maeda had thrown 67 pitches and looked on his way to providing another short start for the Dodgers. In the past three games, relievers had been forced to throw 16 1/3 innings, but entered Sunday with extra reinforcements thanks to a nine-man bullpen. Maeda tightened things up, though, striking out the side in 13 pitches in the fourth and getting through the fifth on just seven pitches.
"After that third inning, he kind of got back in and reestablished his fastball," catcher A.J. Ellis said. "I know he got some insight in the dugout about trying to change some things up mechanically and it showed right away. It speaks to how talented he is, how athletic he is. His fastball command was dominant the rest of the game. That's huge for us, because Kenta can use his offspeed at will." More >
QUOTABLE "The best part for me [Sunday morning] was I met Aaron Hill's father down in the lobby, and talked to Matt Garza's father today down in the lobby. They're proud dads today. They're as excited as anybody today to come to the park and watch their sons play a Major League Baseball game. It brings you a little closer to home, because those dads are fired up." -- Brewers manager Craig Counsell, on missing his four kids this Father's Day
"He has obviously dominated left-handed pitching throughout his career and to be able to come off the bench and hit a home run in that spot, that was tremendous. He does a lot of things for us as far as the versatility. He's a heck of a player and no bigger hit than that right there." -- Roberts on Hernandez's game-tying, pinch-hit home run
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS Thornburg was the first Brewers pitcher to issue a walk-off walk in more than four years, since Jose Veras walked Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas with the bases loaded in the 10th inning to seal a 4-3 loss on June 13, 2012. Brewers pitchers have now issued 12 walk-off walks in franchise history.
WHAT'S NEXT Brewers: After a day off Monday, the Brewers begin a two-game series against the A's behind right-hander Jimmy Nelson, who is looking to get on track after three subpar June starts. It's Milwaukee's first visit to Oakland since 2002, their longest gap between trips to a road venue. First pitch is scheduled for 9:10 p.m. CT.
Dodgers: Pitching matchups don't get much better than Monday's battle of aces at Dodger Stadium, as Clayton Kershaw will take the mound against Stephen Strasburg and the Nationals. Together, they are two of just seven 10-game winners in MLB this season and each rank in the top five in strikeouts. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. PT.