For the Milwaukee Brewers‘ Casey McGehee, hitting the go-ahead, pinch-hit home run was a nice way to end the day. The real treat Wednesday night was watching his 2 1/2-year-old son throw out the first pitch.
Mackail McGehee has cerebral palsy, but that didn’t stop him from performing the ceremonial duties. He then stuck around to watch his father hit a two-run homer that helped rally the Brewers to a 7-5 victory over the Washington Nationals, providing a brief break from their monthlong slide in the NL Central.
“‘Good hit, Daddy,’ – That was about as good a congratulations that I could have got,” McGehee said.
McGehee said he’s playing for his son every time he takes the field. And despite an awful month of July, McGehee thinks the Brewers still have something to play for as a team.
“It’s starting to get down to the dog days,” McGehee said. “If we’re going to be in it at the end, we’ve got to start taking care of business. The good thing is, we’re not buried by any stretch of the imagination.”
With two outs in the sixth inning, McGehee smacked a 3-2 pitch from reliever Tyler Clippard (1-1) into the Brewers‘ bullpen in left-center, giving Milwaukee a 6-5 lead. It was the Brewers‘ first homer from a pinch-hitter this season.
“Hallelujah,” Brewers manager Ken Macha said.
Mike Cameron also homered for the Brewers, while Ryan Braun had a home run called back on an instant replay review.
Trevor Hoffman allowed one hit in the ninth to earn his 23rd save.
Milwaukee came into July in first place in the division but has gone 8-16 this month – including losing the first two games of the four-game series with the Nationals by a combined score of 22-9. And they fell behind 4-0 after two innings Wednesday.
“We could have folded up our tents and taken another one,” Macha said.
Milwaukee starter Manny Parra (5-8) settled down after walking in two runs in the second inning. Despite throwing 64 pitches in the first two innings, Parra managed to make it through the sixth, giving up five runs, nine hits and five walks.
Cristian Guzman had an RBI single, a double and scored a run for the Nationals, who still have baseball’s worst record (32-69) but had tied a season high with four straight wins under new manager Jim Riggleman entering Wednesday’s game.
“That club is battling for the Central Division and we went step-for-step with them,” Riggleman said.
Clippard wasn’t buying the idea that almost beating the Brewers again was a moral victory.
“Definitely not,” he said. “We should’ve won this one too.”
Riggleman pulled starter Garrett Mock after Corey Hart doubled and Cameron singled leading off the sixth. Clippard got J.J. Hardy to hit into a double play but a run scored to cut the lead to 5-4.
Clippard then walked Rivera and gave up the homer – and the lead – to McGehee’s eighth home run of the season.
“I think everybody that had a Nationals jersey on felt like we were in a good spot right there,” Clippard said. “But I didn’t do my job.”
Washington had a chance to tie in the eighth after Nyjer Morgan reached base on a one-out infield single and went from first to third on a wild pitch by reliever Todd Coffey. But Coffey got Guzman and Josh Willingham to ground out to end the inning.
Milwaukee added a run in the eighth on a run-scoring groundout by Hardy.
Morgan couldn’t make a big play to keep the Brewers off the scoreboard in the third, but a replay review could – if only temporarily.
With Milwaukee trailing 4-0 and a runner on first, Braun hit a ball to deep center. Morgan made a leaping attempt at a catch but the ball bounced off the top of the wall, and the hit was ruled a homer.
But umpires called for a review, and a replay showed the ball went off Morgan’s glove before it hit the wall. Braun was awarded an RBI triple that scored Craig Counsell, and Braun later scored on a wild pitch by Mock to cut Washington’s lead to 4-2.
“It was an obvious play,” Macha said. “They got it right.”
But Mackail made the play of the day.
After he wheeled his small walker out to the grass in front of the mound, Prince Fielder picked him up and Mackail skipped the ball to his dad behind home plate.
“Aside from obviously our team winning a game, as a father, that’s going to be a moment I remember for a long time,” McGehee said. “He’s something special.”
NOTES: Macha said Carlos Villanueva, who took Tuesday’s loss, would start Sunday’s game at San Diego. … Macha said there was no update on the health of starter Jeff Suppan, who has an oblique strain and will be re-evaluated Thursday. He is scheduled to start Saturday. … Mock’s single to right in the second was his first career hit.