Brew­ers Woodruff’s HR stuns Dodgers

The Commercial Appeal - - Front Page - Ge­naro C. Ar­mas AP SPORTS WRITER BURGER TIME

MIL­WAU­KEE – The high-five at the plate from Bran­don Woodruff nearly took out Lorenzo Cain.

It’s not of­ten that re­liever hits a home run.

Bat­ting left-handed. Off lefty Clay­ton Ker­shaw. In the play­offs.

Woodruff stunned the ace with an early home run and Mil­wau­kee’s nor­mally shut­down bullpen held on – barely – as the Brew­ers beat the sloppy Los An­ge­les Dodgers 6-5 Fri­day night in Game 1 of the NL Cham­pi­onship Se­ries.

Hard-throw­ing Josh Hader and the Brew­ers earned their 12th straight win, one shy of the fran­chise record set to open the 1987 sea­son.

Woodruff, of all peo­ple, had the mo­men­tum-swing­ing hit.

“It’s some­thing ob­vi­ously com­ing into the day, you don’t know in your wildest dreams that’s go­ing to hap­pen,” he said.

It was the first time in post­sea­son his­tory that a pitcher home­red in a lefty vs. lefty matchup. Woodruff was un­der­stand­ably was pumped as he rounded the bases.

“He was fired up when he came home. He nearly broke my arm,” Cain said.

The Dodgers scored three times in the eighth to make it 6-4, then nearly tied it in the ninth. Chris Tay­lor hit an RBI triple off Cain’s glove in deep cen­ter field with two outs be­fore Corey Knebel fanned Justin Turner to end it.

Game 2 is Satur­day at Miller Park, with Wade Mi­ley pitch­ing for the Brew­ers against Hyun-Jin Ryu.

The Dodgers did some dam­age against the Brew­ers’ bullpen. Mil­wau­kee used seven pitch­ers, in­clud­ing three score­less in­nings from Hader. Woodruff threw two per­fect in­nings and got the win.

“But for us to get a look at th­ese guys out of the ‘pen in a seven-game se­ries, I think that’s a good thing,” man­ager Dave Roberts said.

Manny Machado home­red and drove in three runs for Los An­ge­les. The Dodgers com­mit­ted four er­rors, in­clud­ing two by catcher Yas­mani Gran­dal, who also had two passed balls.

NER­VOUS MO­MENTS

Mil­wau­kee man­ager Craig Coun­sell’s pitch­ing-by-com­mit­tee strat­egy con­tin­ued to be a hit, at least un­til the late in­nings.

Fi­nally, the hard-throw­ing Knebel re­stored or­der by strik­ing out Turner. Knebel walked Joc Ped­er­son with two outs be­fore Tay­lor’s long drive.

“It’s the post­sea­son and any­thing can hap­pen, you saw right there. It was a good feel­ing for it to go our way right there at the end,” Knebel said.

STUN­NING HOMER

Af­ter starter Gio Gon­za­lez went two in­nings, nicked by Machado’s home run, Woodruff en­tered in the top of the third. In the bot­tom half, Woodruff made a sud­den im­pact – with his bat.

Woodruff be­came just the third re­lief pitcher to homer in the post­sea­son, tag­ging a three-time NL Cy Young Award win­ner for a ty­ing solo drive. Woodruff pumped both arms as he rounded first base, while Ker­shaw turned away and looked down at the ground.

“I knew he could swing the bat a lit­tle bit, for sure,” Ker­shaw said. “I didn’t know he could do that, but I knew he could hit a lit­tle bit.”

Woodruff was a ca­reer 4 for 22 (.222) hit­ter be­fore con­nect­ing. He had one pre­vi­ous homer, in July against Pitts­burgh’s Nick King­ham.

DODGER BLUES

Ker­shaw was chased be­fore he could re­tire a bat­ter in the fourth in­ning.

It was an­other mis­er­able Oc­to­ber night for the lefty, whose reg­u­lar-sea­son bril­liance has of­ten dis­ap­peared in the post­sea­son.

And it wasn’t even Chris­tian Yelich and the Brew­ers’ stars who got to him. Her­nan Perez hit a sac­ri­fice fly later in the third, and pinch-hit­ter Domingo San­tana had a two-run sin­gle in the fourth for a 4-1 lead that chased Ker­shaw from the mound with no­body out.

It was the short­est post­sea­son start of Ker­shaw’s ca­reer. He had a 4.65 ERA in 10 ca­reer ap­pear­ances, in­clud­ing seven starts, go­ing into Fri­day.

That ERA went up af­ter al­low­ing six hits and five runs – four earned – in three-plus in­nings.

“The er­rors af­fected the game. But as far as Clay­ton, I just think it was poor ex­e­cu­tion,” Roberts said.

Je­sus Aguilar added a solo home run in the sev­enth for the Brew­ers, his sec­ond of the post­sea­son. Cain went 3 for 5 and scored a run. Eat up, Mil­wau­kee. This late-sea­son run earned Brew­ers fans a free burger at an area restau­rant chain.

Ge­orge Webb Res­tau­rants has a long­stand­ing pro­mo­tion to give away a free burger when­ever the Brew­ers win 12 straight. It’s time to dine af­ter a dozen. Save the date: Oc­to­ber 18, Ge­orge Webb an­nounced af­ter the game . Save one for re­liever Jeremy Jef­fress, too.

“Hon­estly, as long as you put some mayo on it I’m good with it,” he said.

Ge­orge Webb also paid up in 1987.

UP NEXT

It’s an­other all left-handed pitch­ing matchup in Game 2. Ryu pitched seven shutout in­nings, strik­ing out seven and al­low­ing for hits, in the Dodgers’ Game 1 vic­tory over the Braves in the Di­vi­sion Se­ries. Ryu is 2-0 with a 1.96 ERA in four ca­reer post­sea­son starts. Mi­ley is mak­ing his sec­ond start of the post­sea­son, go­ing 4 2/3 in­nings in the Brew­ers’ Di­vi­sion Se­ries-clinch­ing vic­tory over Colorado on Sun­day. He is 4-5 with a 3.55 ERA in 15 ca­reer games against the Dodgers.

USA TO­DAY SPORTS

Mil­wau­kee Brew­ers re­lief pitcher Bran­don Woodruff cel­e­brates in the dugout af­ter hit­ting a homer against the Los An­ge­les Dodgers in Game 1.

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