By RICH ROVITO Associated Press
MILWAUKEE (AP) — Kiké Hernandez had a daunting challenge.
Down to his final strike with two outs against All-Star Josh Hader, Hernandez lined a three-run homer over the left field wall to lift the Los Angeles Dodgers over the Milwaukee Brewers 5-3 on Friday night.
Hernandez sprinted around the bases and slapped high fives at home plate with teammates A.J. Pollock and David Freese, who had drawn walks off Hader ahead of him. Dodgers’ players and coaches mobbed Hernandez as he returned to the dugout.
They had reason to celebrate.
Hader had never given up a home run on an 0-2 pitch. Prior to Hernandez’s long ball, batters were 0 for 10 with nine strikeouts when faced with 0-2 counts against Hader this season.
“I saw a fastball at the top of the strike zone that I got on top of and I hit a line drive and it went out of the ballpark,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez knows the difficulty in facing Hader.
“(The ball) gets there quick,” Hernandez said. “He does a really good job of hiding it. He’s got an unorthodox wind-up. He’s very aggressive. His hair is flowing everywhere.”
Hader (0-1) offered a blunt assessment of the costly pitch and his lack of command.
“It was up where I wanted it, but I wanted it to be more in and I just left it out over (the plate),” Hader said. “I didn’t set myself up too good to execute. I made mistakes and I paid for it.”
The win is the sixth in a row for the Dodgers. The Brewers have lost a season-high three straight.
Five Dodgers relievers combined to limit Milwaukee to one run over the final 4 1/3 innings. Pedro Baez (1-1) got the win and Kenley Jensen got the last three outs for his seventh save.
The Brewers immediately jumped on starter Ross Stripling. Lorenzo Cain led off the first with a single for his 1,000th career hit. Christian Yelich then lofted a 408-foot homer into the second deck in right, his major league-leading 11th of the season, to stake Milwaukee to a 2-0 lead.
Yelich’s blast tied the franchise record for home runs in March and April set by Eric Thames in 2017.
The Dodgers cut the lead to 2-1 in the second on Alex Verdugo’s run-scoring double off Jhoulys Chacin. Cody Bellinger’s sacrifice fly in the third tied the score.
After Hernandez’s homer put Los Angeles ahead, Eric Thames hit a solo shot off Joe Kelly in the bottom of the eighth to pull the Brewers to 5-3.
Chacin gave up five hits and two runs in five innings, while Stripling lasted 4 2/3 innings and surrendered four hits and two runs.
BURNES SENT TO MINORS
Corbin Burnes, a key member Milwaukee’s vaunted bullpen last season, was optioned to Triple-A San Antonio. Burnes was 7-0 with a 2.61 in 30 appearances in 2018 but has struggled since being inserted into the starting rotation this season, allowing an MLB-leading 11 home runs. The Brewers recalled LHP Donnie Hart, who allowed just one run in six innings for San Antonio.
“I’ll make two or three starts and just try to get back on track,” Burnes said.
Dodgers: LHP Rich Hill (left knee MCL strain) will make a rehab start Monday at either Triple-A Oklahoma City or Double-A Tulsa. “It’s contingent on weather,” manager Dave Roberts said. … C Russell Martin (lower back inflammation) could be activated from the injured list when the team returns to Los Angeles for a three-game series against Pittsburgh starting April 26.
Brewers: Cain was hit by a pitch in the upper left arm, but he remained in the game. … RHP Jake Petricka was optioned to Triple-A San Antonio. … RHP Alex Wilson was reinstated from the paternity list.
Dodgers: Hyun-Jin Ryu (2-0, 3.07 ERA) will be activated from the 10-day injured list (strained left groin) and start on Saturday. Ryu made his only career appearance against the Brewers on May 22, 2013, in Milwaukee. He allowed two runs in 7 1/3 innings to get the win.
Brewers: After the game, manager Craig Counsell announced that Chase Anderson (1-0, 4.50) will start on Saturday to fill a hole in the rotation created when Freddy Peralta was placed on the 10-day injured list with a right shoulder issue.
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