MILWAUKEE – Eric Sogard bailed out All-Star closer Josh Hader by hitting his first career walkoff home run, a two-run shot that lifted the Milwaukee Brewers over the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-6 on Saturday night.
After Hader walked five of six batters in the top of the ninth to blow a one-run lead, Sogard connected off Richard Rodriguez (0-2) with no outs in the bottom of the inning. Jace Peterson was on first following a leadoff walk.
“Crazy back and forth. Something you probably won’t see again out of Hader, kind of a fluke thing," Sogard said. "Happy to be able to pick him up, since he picks us up so many extra times.
“I’m never up there trying to hit home runs. I obviously put a good swing on it, put a barrel on it, obviously right launch angle and what-not, it’s going to go."
Milwaukee was leading 5-4 when Hader took the mound in the ninth. He walked Erik Gonazalez, struck out Cole Tucker, and then issued free passes to Kevin Newman, Josh Bell, Jacob Stallings and Adam Frazier. His final nine pitches missed the strike zone, and he was replaced by Devin Williams (2-1), who promptly got out of the inning.
Entering Saturday, the left-handed Hader was 7-for-7 in save opportunities and had not allowed a run or a hit all season.
“I wasn’t missing too, too bad on many, but obviously you start struggling, you start throwing balls, you slow yourself down and you also slow the umpire down," Hader said. "The game just slows down. Realistically, it speeds up, but you get into that turtle speed when things just aren’t clicking right.”
With Pittsburgh leading 4-3 in the eighth, Pirates left-hander Nik Turley gave up a leadoff double to Christian Yelich and hit Keston Hiura with a pitch before facing three consecutive pinch-hitters. Turley retired Jedd Gyorko, who had homered twice in the Brewers’ 9-1 drubbing of Pittsburgh on Friday, and Ryan Braun, who homered once on Friday.