Gio Gonzalez made his return to the starting rotation for the Milwaukee Brewers this evening, and the Arizona Diamondbacks made his comeback a bit of a bumpy one. The D-Backs got on the board first in the opening inning, beginning with a one-out single by Ketel Marte. He would later advance to second base on a wild pitch by Gonzalez and the come around to score on a two-out single by Christian Walker.
Gio settled down for a bit after that, posting zeroes in the second, third, and fourth frames. Milwaukee’s offense tied the game up at one apiece in the top of the fourth thanks to a leadoff double by Christian Yelich and then an RBI single by Ryan Braun to drive him in. The Brewers would go on to load the bases with one out in the inning...with Tyler Saladino and Gonzalez in line as the next two hitters. Unsurprisingly, both players punched out against opposing starter and old friend Zack Greinke.
The contact started to become loud against Gio in the fifth. Nick Ahmed doubled to lead off the inning, then came around to score Arizona’s second run when Carson Kelly doubled him home as the next batter. Greinke followed with a double of his own to score Kelly and make it 3-1, ending Gonzalez’s day at 73 pitches. He was charged with the three earned runs and saw his ERA rise to 3.60 after making his first start in nearly two months.
Milwaukee’s bullpen shut things down after that. Freddy Peralta came on and put out the fire that Gio started, retiring the next three batters in order to end the fifth. The Brewers got a run back in the sixth on a long home run by Eric Thames off Grienke, his 14th of the season to make it 3-2. That would be all Greinke allowed across seven complete innings. Peralta struck out a pair in the sixth and finished with 4 K’s in his 2.0 innings, then Adrian Houser punched out the side in the seventh.
In the eighth, the Crew’s offense mounted their comeback against Arizona’s relief corps. Yelich led off with a single against Andrew Chafin, then Braun drew a free pass. That brought Mike Moustakas to the plate, and he took a 94 MPH from the lefty Chafin and clubbed it over the fence for an opposite-field, three-run homer to give Milwaukee a 5-3 advantage.
Houser came back out for the bottom of the eighth, and after getting Tim Locastro to ground out, Ketel Marte blooped a ball down the line in left field. Braun attempted to make a diving catch and was unsuccessful, allowing the ball to roll all the way to the wall while Marte motored around the bases for a triple. That brought out Craig Counsell to yank Houser and insert Josh Hader, and he punched out Eduardo Escobar and Walker to strand the runner on third and end the threat.
Unsatisfied with a mere two-run lead, the Cream City Nine tacked on a handful of BMIRs in the top of the ninth. Orlando Arcia walked to start things off against Zach Godley, and then Ben Gamel walked, too. Yasmani Grandal whiffed, but Yelich lined an opposite-field double to make it 6-3 and put runners on second and third. Stefan Crichton replaced Godley, and he retired Braunie on strikes before issuing an intentional walk to Moose. The next batter was Keston Hiura, and he blooped in a two-run single to extend the advantage to 8-3.
With the lead up to five, Jeremy Jeffress was granted the opportunity to work in the ninth inning. He walked Ahmed with two outs but otherwise turned in a scoreless outing to secure the victory.
With the win, the Brewers move to 52-48 on the season and stay three games back of the Cubs, who were also victorious today. The club also moves into the second Wild Card slot, a half-game ahead of the Cardinals and Phillies. Milwaukee will wrap up their four-game set with the Phoenix Nine tomorrow afternoon, with first pitch scheduled for 3:10 PM central. Brandon Woodruff will face off against Alex Young.