MILWAUKEE (AP)—Trevor Hoffman waited so long for his first appearance with Milwaukee that he got a call from manager Ken Macha asking him if he still wanted to pitch.
Rickie Weeks broke open a tie game in the eighth inning with a run-scoring fielder’s choice that sparked a five-run rally, lifting the Milwaukee Brewers to a 10-5 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday night.
Milwaukee fans then got to hear AC/DC’s “Hells Bells” for the first time this season when Hoffman entered in the ninth for his first outing in a Brewers uniform.
“Everybody was pretty excited to hear the music,” said Hoffman, who said the song really should only be played in save situations. “The first one, I understand, everybody’s allowed a mulligan. We did it spring training, too, so we’ll try and not get the other team fired up.”
Weeks, who had a career-high four RBIs, hit a three-run homer, and Ryan Braun and Mike Cameron also connected for Milwaukee—all off Jeff Karstens— which won its 13th in a row over Pittsburgh, but needed the extra runs after the bullpen squandered a 5-3 lead in the eighth: Carlos Villanueva allowed a two-out, two-run double to Freddy Sanchez.
The Pirates came into the three-game series winners of five of six and were off to their best start since 2002.
Milwaukee’s five-run outburst in the bottom of the inning spoiled a potential save situation for all-time saves leader Hoffman, who was primed and ready but stood watching in the bullpen while the Brewers kept pouring it on.
“It was a long wait, kind of obviously felt longer because of the circumstances. But, when you’re scoring five runs, nobody’s going to be upset about it,” Hoffman said. “I’m not into drama. Those guys did a great job.”
Yates (0-1) started by walking Bill Hall and hitting catcher Jason Kendall on the right hand. Pinch-hitter Craig Counsell’s sacrifice advanced the runners for Weeks, who grounded hard to a diving Sanchez at second base. Sanchez threw home, but there was no play on Hall to give Milwaukee a 6-5 lead.
“I committed the cardinal sin of relief pitching by walking the leadoff man and then hitting the next guy who was trying to bunt,” Yates said. “I’ve got to make them earn their way on and I didn’t do that.”
Yates was pulled for reliever Josh Grabow, who allowed an RBI double to Corey Hart and then intentionally walked Ryan Braun to load the bases for Prince Fielder, who singled in two more runs to make it 9-5. Mike Cameron’s sacrifice fly capped the scoring.
“We’re really confident up and down the lineup,” Braun said. “Everybody’s starting to swing the bats well. Whether we’re ahead or behind, we’re confident we’re going to score some runs.”
By that point, Hoffman had been standing in the bullpen for more than 15 minutes after missing the first 17 games of the season because of a strained right oblique. He was activated from the DL on Sunday.
That didn’t temper the excitement—even on the bench.
“I felt like a fan, I was pretty fired up,” Braun said. “Whenever you get an opportunity to watch the greatest closer to ever play the game pitch for your team, it’s exciting for us.”
Hoffman, who signed a one-year, $6 million contract in the offseason, worked a perfect inning.
Braun wasn’t happy by being hit by a pitch by Karstens the at-bat after his homer in the first inning. “It’s rare for major league pitchers to miss by that much with the fastball,” Braun said. “We play them about 17 more times. Tell Mr. Selig, we’ll see what happens. It’ll be interesting.” Pirates manager John Russell said it looked bad, but was not intentional. … The Brewers’ winning streak over Pittsburgh is the longest active streak in baseball. … Fielder hit a triple in the first inning, the sixth of his career … Pirates CF Nate McLouth (oblique) did not play and is likely out for the series against Milwaukee.