McGehee makes difference in a pinch
Go-ahead homer in sixth breaks three-game losing streak
MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers finally beat the Nationals.
And in a game that featured another shaky starting pitching performance and a pinch-hit homer by Casey McGehee on the same night his 2-year-old son, suffering from cerebral palsy, threw out the first pitch, Brewers manager Ken Macha could only utter one word.
McGehee hit a two-run, pinch-hit home run in the bottom of the sixth inning and the Milwaukee bullpen followed with three scoreless innings, as the Brewers beat the Nationals, 7-5, on Wednesday night at Miller Park.
In a homestand thought by many to have intriguing possibilities with Washington, owner of baseball's worst record, coming into town, the Brewers struggled in the first five games of the stretch.
First, there were losses of 9-4 and 10-2 to Atlanta, before the Nationals came in and took the first two games of the series, 14-6 and 8-3, respectively.
Wednesday night looked like the outcome would be along the same lines when Brewers starter Manny Parra allowed one run in the first inning and three more in the second -- two on consecutive bases-loaded walks with two outs -- while throwing 65 pitches in the first two frames.
"Of the losses we've had there's been no pressure. We've gotten completely blown out of the games," Macha said of the homestand. "[Wednesday] was a bit of a tight game and I thought our guys played well. Falling behind, we could have just folded up our tents and taken another one."
Parra eventually settled down, getting through the sixth inning by allowing just one more run before turning the game over to the bullpen.
The Brewers began their comeback with what appeared to be a two-run homer by Ryan Braun in the third inning to center field, but the play was overturned using instant replay.
"It was the right call," Nationals center fielder Nyjer Morgan said. "The ball was in my glove. The way I hit the wall, it [knocked] it out [of the glove]. I tried to make a good play. I expected to catch it, but I didn't catch it."
The change turned out to be meaningless, as Braun scored five pitches later on a wild pitch. Mike Cameron hit a solo homer in the fourth inning before the Brewers rallied for three in the sixth.
Corey Hart led off with a double and moved to third on a single by Cameron. Hart scored when J.J. Hardy grounded into a double play, but Mike Rivera walked and McGehee hit the team's first pinch-hit homer of the season into the Brewers' bullpen to put Milwaukee ahead for good.
The homer was especially important to McGehee, who caught his two-year-old son, Mackail, throwing out the first pitch. After the game, an emotional McGehee had his eyes well up while talking about it.
"Man, I mean, aside from obviously our team winning the game and all that stuff, as a father, that's going to be a moment I'm going to remember for a long time," McGehee said. "He's something special. ... If you would have asked me a few years ago, first of all, if I would have even been on a big league field, let alone be able to share it with my son in any way, shape, form or fashion, I'd have thought I was pretty lucky to have that happen. That was pretty special."
Brewers reliever Todd Coffey pitched a scoreless seventh and eighth, and Hart scored on a groundout in the bottom of the eighth for an insurance run before Trevor Hoffman came in for the ninth inning and picked up his 23rd save of the season.
Tyler Clippard (1-1) took the loss in relief, while Parra (5-8) held on long enough to earn the win.
Parra, who was pitching a day after reliever Carlos Villanueva moved to the starting rotation and starter Jeff Suppan underwent on MRI that revealed a strained left oblique muscle, was visibly disappointed in his performance the first two innings. But, Parra said he was prepared to do whatever he had to in order to save the bullpen.
"I was willing to throw as many pitches as I had to," Parra said. "I was out there with that demeanor, no matter what happened. If [Macha] wanted me to eat innings, at that point it was just like, 'do whatever you can to help keep this team in the game and eat innings and help the team out in some sort of way.' ... The bottom line is the credit in the win goes to the bullpen and the hitters in this game."
The Brewers are hoping the win will signal the end of a slumping July and send the team back to their winning ways of just a few short weeks ago. The Brewers had baseball's second-best record (30-20) in April and May, but have floundered, owning the league's fifth-worst record (20-31) in June and July.
Because of that drastic split, players are adamant that the season isn't over. Although, they admit Wednesday's win was a big one in hopes of getting back on track.
"No mistake about it, this was a big game," McGehee said. "Whatever you want to say about how we've played the last however long, one good thing is we haven't been buried by any stretch of the imagination and we've still got 60-some odd games to go. Sixty games ago it was a whole other story around here, so who knows what the next 60 games is going to hold for us."
Cash Kruth is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.