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Eric Thames walks it off as Brewers beat Rangers, 6-5

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But the pitching problems continue.

Texas Rangers v Milwaukee Brewers Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Box Score

The pitching staff for the Milwaukee Brewers allowed only four hits to the Texas Rangers’ offense during Friday’s series opener, but six pitchers still managed to give up five runs thanks to 10 walks and the home team needed a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth in order to defeat the visitors.

Gio Gonzalez started the game for Milwaukee and he pitched relatively well. He was staked to an early lead in the bottom of the first when Lorenzo Cain singled to lead off the game and then scored on a Ryan Braun double to make it 1-0. Gonzalez dealt with runners on base during four of his five complete innings, but the only damage against him was a solo home run by Hunter Pence in the fourth inning. He finished his day with the one earned run allowed on two hits and three walks, with a pair of strikeouts. Since signing in late April — and missing time with shoulder and arm issues — Gonzalez has posted a 3.20 ERA in 10 starts and 50.2 innings for the Crew.

The Brewers re-took the lead in the bottom of the fifth, chasing Texas starter Kolby Allard out of the game. With one out, Hernan Perez beat out a single that was overturned on replay. Then pinch-hitter Ben Gamel walked. Lorenzo Cain walked to load the bases. That’s when Adrian Sampson was summoned to relieve Allard, but the new pitcher walked Keston Hiura on five pitches to force in the second run and make it 2-1. But the middle of the order failed to add any more runs on, with Mike Moustakas and Braun striking out to end the inning.

Freddy Peralta was the first pitcher out of Milwaukee’s bullpen, and he quickly recorded the first two outs of the inning on a groundout and a flyout. Then, as he’s been far too prone to doing lately, Fastball Freddy lost control. Pence walked, and so did Rougned Odor, forcing a visit to the mound. But that didn’t help Peralta regain his composure, as Logan Forsythe walked to load the bases. Alex Claudio was called upon to replace Peralta and face Shin-Soo Choo, and he uncorked a slider that got past the catcher for a wild pitch. Pence scrambled home to score, but as Odor dashed towards the plate, Manny Pina was able to get the ball to Claudio covering in time for the final out of the inning.

The top of the seventh featured a pair of errors and some command issues from Matt Albers, but the the right-hander was able to work around boots by Moose and first baseman Yasmani Grandal as well as a pair of two-out walks to strand the bases loaded. The offense got to work half of the inning, rallying with two outs to take the lead. It started with a two-out double by Hiura, and then Moose was intentionally walked. Pinch-hitter Eric Thames walked to load the bases, and then Grandal stung a base hit to right field that plated a pair to make it a 4-2 lead. The next batter Pina added another run with an RBI double, and when the dust settled, it was 5-2.

Craig Counsell went to one of his new pitchers, Jake Faria, in the eighth. Things started off well enough with a flyout by Pence, but then Odor walked and Forsythe took Faria deep to left-center to make it 5-4. That caused the manager to go to Josh Hader with one out in the eighth, and after plunking Isiah Kiner-Falefa, he struck out Jose Trevino and Delino DeShields to end the inning with the one-run lead intact.

Hader came back out for the top of the ninth to try and convert the five-out save. Danny Santana grounded out to start the inning, but then Hader put an 0-1 fastball in the danger zone of Elvis Andrus. He took it over the fence to tie the ballgame at 5-5. It was the 12th dinger allowed by Hader in 55.1 innings this season. The trouble didn’t immediately end after that, either. Josh hit Willie Calhoun with a pitch, then walked Hunter Pence. But he rallied to punch out Odor and Forsythe, and after 44 pitches, Hader’s work was complete and the game headed to the bottom of the ninth.

Rookie Emmanuel Clase, who pitched a scoreless eighth inning, came back out for Texas in the ninth and struck out Hiura and then induced a Moustakas grounder for a quick first two outs. That brought Eric Thames to the dish, and with a 3-1 count, he got a 96 MPH cutter that he could do some damage with.

That makes four wins in a row for the Cream City Nine, who now sit at 61-56 and 2.5 games back of the Cubs for first place in the NL Central. The club also has a solo hold on the second Wild Card spot, a half-game ahead of the Cardinals, Mets, and Phillies. The Brewers and Rangers will do battle again on Saturday evening at Miller Park, with first pitch set for 6:10 PM central. Adrian Houser will toe the slab against Pedro Payano.