After going without a hit from the second through the seventh, the Milwaukee Brewers awoke late for one of their biggest innings of the season.
A bases-clearing double from pinch-hitter Lyle Overbay capped a five-run eighth inning for the Brewers, as Milwaukee came back to stun the Los Angeles Dodgers with six late runs in a 6-3 victory Friday at Dodger Stadium.
"To steal one, pretty much take it out of their pocket, is huge for us," Brewers closer Francisco Rodriguez said.
Down 2-0 and hitless since collecting a pair of singles in the first inning, the Brewers collected five hits off Dodgers relievers Jamey Wright and Brandon League in the eighth.
Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez collected consecutive one-out singles to start the rally, while Scooter Gennett cut the deficit to 2-1 with a base hit to right. Khris Davis followed with a double just out of the reach of Dodgers center fielder Yasiel Puig, scoring Ramirez to tie the game.
Before exiting the game, Wright intentionally walked Mark Reynolds to load the bases. With Jean Segura unable to hit due to a right hand contusion suffered an inning earlier, manager Ron Roenicke turned to Rickie Weeks off the bench.
Brandon League struck Weeks out swinging, setting Roenicke up with a decision to make. He opted to go with Overbay despite knowing Elian Herrera had to enter the game to play shortstop anyways.
The decision paid off, as Overbay hit the first offering from League into the left-field corner to clear the bases and put the Brewers up 5-2.
"I’m trying to figure out who to hit there in that inning, because Herrera really hits the guys that throw real hard fastballs," Roenicke said. "Lyle has been so good with guys on base and off the bench. I was trying to figure out when to put Rick up there too. I liked Rickie against Wright. You can’t do much about that.
"That was huge. You hope Rick does something there and then Lyle comes behind him and clears the bases."
Overbay is hitting just .232 on the season, but is now 8 for 18 (.444) as a pinch hitter. The veteran’s clutch double raised his batting average with runners in scoring position this season to .391.
"Sinker-baller, so he’s going to try and get that groundball," Overbay said of League. "You have to try and get that ball up because he’s going to try to get that groundball. You have to take advantage of it, if it is going to be the first pitch or the 10th of the at-bat. He ended up throwing me a pretty good pitch that first pitch, so I had to take advantage of it, close my eyes and swing for the best."
Lost in the late offensive outburst were a couple of factors which led to the comeback. First, rookie right-hander Jimmy Nelson kept the Brewers in the game by holding the Dodgers to just two runs over six innings.
He allowed six hits and walked just one, exiting after 83 pitches with Milwaukee looking for offense in the top of the seventh.
"Jimmy was good," Roenicke said. "I liked his command. Fastballs were mostly down in the zone. He threw some really good sliders. I thought that was one of his better games."
Milwaukee’s ability to chase Dodgers starter Zack Greinke after just five innings proved to be huge, as Los Angeles was down closer Kenley Jansen and right-hander Brian Wilson on Friday.
Greinke kept the Brewers off the scoreboard and didn’t allow a hit after the first inning, but he walked a season-high five batters and needed 99 pitches to get through five. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly opted to pinch hit for Greinke to start the bottom of the fifth, meaning his bullpen had to cover four innings.
"We were battling Greinke all night," Overbay said. "We were right on the verge. We got him out early and got their bullpen — I think their bullpen was a little taxed from the last couple of days because we didn’t see their big dogs.
"We were able to take advantage of that, and that starts off with getting Greinke out of the game to set us up for that."
Early exit: Brewers shortstop Jean Segura was forced to leave Friday’s game after suffering a right-hand contusion while trying to break up a double play in the seventh inning.
Segura slid with his hands up, causing the throw from Miguel Rojas to hit his hand. Second-base umpire Mike Estabrook ruled that Segura left the base path on his slide into second, causing a double play to end the inning.
"He said he slid too far out of the baseline, that he couldn’t have touched the base," Roenicke said. "Which may be, I don’t know. I can’t see exactly. His skid marks were to where maybe he could have reached it. He said that and he threw his hands up. I said, ‘Which one did you call?’ He said, ‘I called him because he slid too far out of the baseline.’ "
X-rays taken on Segura’s hand came back negative, but he may not be in the lineup Saturday against the Dodgers.
"It got him pretty good, but it did get him in the meaty part," Roenicke said. "They did X-rays, he’s fine. But he’s going to be sore."
Moving on up: By recording his 37th save of the season, Rodriguez tied former Brewer and Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers for 11th on the all-time saves list with 341.
"It means a lot," Rodriguez said. "A lot of work that I put into it has paid off. It is huge. Hopefully God can give me an opportunity to be healthy for many years to come and not stop there."