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Improbable home run against Josh Hader gives Dodgers 5-3 win over Brewers

For the first time in his career, Josh Hader made a mistake on an 0-2 pitch and paid for it

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Milwaukee Brewers Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

WP - Pedro Baez (1-1)
LP - Josh Hader (0-1)
SV - Kenley Jansen (7)
HR - MIL: Christian Yelich (11), Eric Thames (3); LAD - Kiké Hernandez (5)

Box Score

Coming into tonight, Josh Hader had only ever allowed 4 hits on an 0-2 count. Ever. E-V-E-R.

Nobody had ever homered against him on an 0-2 count. Ever. E-V-E-R.

Kiké Hernandez had never homered on an 0-2 count. Never. N-E-V-ER.

Then Hernandez jumped on an 0-2 high fastball from Hader that wasn’t quite high enough to hit a go-ahead 3-run home run in the 8th inning, helping power the Dodgers to their 6th straight win and send the Brewers to their 3rd straight loss, 5-3.

Things started well enough for Hader, as Craig Counsell called on him for an at-bat that seemed like it could decide the game -- facing Cody Bellinger with the bases loaded and 2 outs in the 7th inning.

The battle lived up to the hype, with Bellinger working a 7-pitch at-bat before Hader eventually got him swinging to end the threat. If it’s possible to have a playoff atmosphere in April, this might have been it.

That at-bat would just be the first of many battles for Hader, as the Dodgers continued to make him work for every out. After forcing him to throw 38 pitches in 1.1 innings of work a week ago, it was much of the same this time around. A.J. Pollock led off the fateful 8th inning with a 9-pitch walk, and David Freese also worked a walk in an at-bat that had a couple of close could-have-been-strikes that were ruled balls to set up the Hernandez home run.

Before Hader entered, Jhoulys Chacin and Junior Guerra also fought their command and an inconsistent strike zone, but were largely able to escape unscathed.

Chacin walked 3 during his 5 innings, but managed to limit the Dodgers to just 2 runs on 5 hits, bouncing back from a poor start against them in his last outing. It was a fairly typical Chacin start that felt shakier at times than the results would show, but Chacin, Yasmani Grandal and the Brewers’ coaching staff deserve some kudos for switching up his approach for his second start against the Dodgers in a week.

Chacin typically throws his slider 48 percent of the time, but tonight focused more on his fastball. While he struggled to throw it for strikes at times, the change in strategy kept the Dodgers off-balance and they weren’t able to truly square much up off of him.

Alex Claudio bridged the gap between Chacin and Guerra, throwing 1.1 hitless innings and inducing a bunch of weak contact, but did leave a runner on base for Guerra following a walk. Guerra allowed a single to pinch-hitter Chris Taylor before walking Corey Seager to load the bases. Guerra was able to strike out Justin Turner looking, thanks in large part to the framing of Grandal behind the plate, before handing the ball over to Hader.

Offensively, the Brewers got off to a good start against Ross Stripling, with Lorenzo Cain leading off the game with the 1,000th hit of his career and Christian Yelich hitting yet another home run to give the Brewers a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Yelich added on to his club record for March/April RBI, and has now tied Eric Thames for the Brewers record for home runs in the month.

It’s still only April 19th, by the way.

Stripling settled down after that, though, eventually striking out 8 despite only working 4.2 innings. The Dodgers bullpen looked like its old shutdown self after that, not allowing another run until Thames hit a solo home run off of Joe Kelly in the 8th inning. Kenley Jansen locked down his 7th save and the Dodgers’ 14th win with a perfect 9th inning.

After the game, Craig Counsell announced Chase Anderson will be getting the start Saturday night. He’ll face off against Hyun-Jin Ryu, who is being activated off the Injured List, pushing Clayton Kershaw’s start back to Sunday.

Not only does that possibly give the Brewers a better chance at winning Saturday, but it also sets up a rematch on Sunday between Kershaw and Brandon Woodruff, Who Homered Against Clayton Kershaw In The NLCS.

First pitch Saturday is at 6:10 p.m. CDT.