Slumping J.J. Hardy(notes) homered early and drove in the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly in the 11th inning as the Milwaukee Brewers completed a three-game sweep of the Cleveland Indians with a 9-8 victory Wednesday night.
Hoffman, baseball’s career saves leader with 570, squandered an 8-4 lead in the ninth, but the NL Central leaders earned their eighth straight interleague win over Cleveland. Milwaukee also swept three in 2006 and won the final two of a three-game set in 2001.
“Not very efficient on my part,” said Hoffman, who blew his first save in 17 chances since signing with Milwaukee as a free agent. “They have aggressive hitters and I left a lot of balls up in the zone. They did what they’re supposed to do.”
Prince Fielder(notes) singled with one out in the 11th off Greg Aquino(notes) (1-2), who then walked Corey Hart(notes). The runners advanced on a wild pitch that made the count 1-1 on Mike Cameron(notes). The Indians intentionally walked Cameron to load the bases before Hardy lifted a fly to center, scoring Fielder.
Mark DiFelice(notes) (4-0) worked 1 1-3 innings for the win. Mitch Stetter(notes) struck out two with two runners on to earn his first career save. The last 11 outs recorded by the left-hander have been strikeouts.
“When they come back and tie it with four runs in that inning, you need to go out there and shut them down,” Milwaukee manager Ken Macha said. “DiFelice pitched terrific in the 10th. All the players should be feeling pretty good.”
“You’ve got to like our resilience there, but to take feeling good stuff from a loss is getting old,” Indians right fielder Mark DeRosa(notes) said. “This is frustrating. It isn’t the minors. This is a result league and we have to find a way to win.”
Hoffman entered with runners on second and third and yielded a one-out RBI single to Victor Martinez(notes) before walking Shin-Soo Choo(notes) to load the bases. Garko followed with a drive to left-center. He overran second base, however, and was tagged out while sprawled on the ground after twisting his right ankle. He walked off and was replaced in left field by Ben Francisco(notes) to start the 10th.
“Garko just twisted it a little. He should be OK,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said.
Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun had two hits and scored twice before leaving in the eighth with lower back tightness.
After the start was delayed 34 minutes by rain, Hart drove in three runs and hit one of Milwaukee’s three homers as the Brewers took an 8-4 lead.
Hardy hit his sixth homer—his first since May 8—in the second for a 2-0 lead. He came to bat in a 7-for-63 (.111) skid.
The Indians, last in the AL Central, lost for the fourth time in five games. Their bullpen was battered by the Brewers for 21 hits, 14 walks and 18 runs in 14 combined innings in the series.
When Cleveland fell behind 1-0 in the first, it brought out the boo birds to replace sea gulls that have pestered patrons at Progressive Field in recent games.
Milwaukee starter Jeff Suppan(notes) allowed three runs over seven innings. Cleveland’s David Huff(notes) gave up three runs in five innings—failing to get past the fifth for the sixth time in seven career starts since May 17.
“We did a great job of fighting back, but did plenty to hurt ourselves, too,” Wedge said.
NOTES: Cleveland last beat Milwaukee on June 13, 2001, a 5-2 win in 10 innings. … Wedge said OF Grady Sizemore(notes) and INF Asdrubal Cabrera(notes) will go with the team to Chicago for a weekend series against the Cubs. Sizemore, out since May 31 with a sore left elbow and Cabrera, sidelined since June 3 with a strained left shoulder, will work out and hopefully start injury rehab assignments next week. … Indians RHP Carl Pavano(notes) will be moved back a day or two in the rotation. He has a tender shoulder. … Brewers INF Casey McGehee(notes) did not play because of knee and ankle injuries. … Fielder went 6 for 11 with eight RBIs in the series.