WASHINGTON (AP) — After witnessing two dozen runs and multiple comebacks over nine innings, Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell knew he had never seen something quite like the Brewers’ game against the Washington Nationals.
He couldn’t have guessed there would be another five innings of back-and-forth wackiness between the two National League playoff contenders.
Eric Thames hit a go-ahead, two-run homer in the 14th inning, and Milwaukee finally held on for a wild 15-14 victory Saturday night.
“It’s one of the clichés in baseball: You never know what you’re going to see every day when you come to the field,” Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich said. “I think that holds pretty true today.”
Yelich hit two home runs, tying for the major league lead with 41, Ryan Braun smacked two as well and the Brewers equaled their franchise record with seven. Thames’ blast off Javy Guerra (1-1) was the last of them in a 5-hour, 40-minute marathon that featured 38 hits, 17 pitching changes, 11 home runs and blown saves by both teams’ closers.
Yelich went 5 for 6 with four RBIs, breaking out of a 1-for-16 slump since returning from a back injury that cost him four games.
“This was a huge night, obviously, but like I said: If he has an 0-for on his tab the night before, then watch out the next night,” Counsell said. “He backed that up tonight.”
Milwaukee earned its seventh victory in 10 games while setting a season high in runs and snapping Washington’s five-game winning streak.
Junior Guerra (7-4) pitched 1 2/3 innings, but nearly squandered a two-run lead in the 14th. Keston Hiura’s two-out throwing error allowed a run to score and extended the game, but two batters later Guerra struck out pinch-hitter Joe Ross, a pitcher, to end it.
“You didn’t expect the 14th to go 1-2-3,” Counsell said.
Staked to an 11-8 lead, Washington closer Sean Doolittle yielded Yelich’s homer to open the ninth. After Hiura’s double, Mike Moustakas and Braun went deep on consecutive pitches to give the Brewers the lead.
“I’m still searching for answers,” said Doolittle, who blew his sixth save and is 0-2 with a 7.36 ERA since the All-Star break. “I don’t know. . It just wasn’t coming out tonight. That part of the order, that team, there’s just nowhere to hide.”
Milwaukee’s advantage didn’t last. Josh Hader entered and gave up a walk, a double and Victor Robles’ game-tying single. But after an intentional walk to load the bases, Hader struck out the top third of Washington’s order to preserve a 12-12 tie.
Yelich homered again in the 13th to give Milwaukee a 13-12 lead, but again the Nationals came back to prolong it with a walk, a single and Robles’ sacrifice fly.
“I can’t really think of another game that was crazier that I’ve ever played in,” Yelich said. “Just going back and forth, both teams making comebacks and just improbable ties and all that stuff.”
Milwaukee scored five runs in the third off Anibal Sanchez as seven consecutive batters reached safely. Sanchez lasted only four innings, his shortest outing since May 16.
The Nationals rallied to tie it on Juan Soto’s two-run homer in the third and Adam Eaton’s three-run blast in the fourth. Both came off Brewers starter Jordan Lyles, who also departed after four innings.
Braun and Trent Grisham homered in consecutive innings off Nationals reliever Matt Grace to make it 8-5. Trea Turner and Howie Kendrick homered in the sixth and seventh, respectively, as Washington took an 11-8 lead.
Brewers: LHP Brent Suter (Tommy John surgery) threw 50 pitches over 2 2/3 scoreless innings in a rehabilitation appearance for Triple-A San Antonio on Thursday. “We’ll give him a good break before his next appearance,” Counsell said. “We’ll kind of keep him at that point. He needs to pitch, and as much as pitch, he needs to recover because recovery is important right now.” … OF Lorenzo Cain received a routine day off.
Nationals: RHP Max Scherzer (mild rhomboid strain) threw a simulated game Saturday. “Now it’s just a recovery,” manager Dave Martinez said. “He threw 64 pitches. He felt good, so he’s a little ornery, which is a good thing.” … 1B Ryan Zimmerman (plantar fasciitis) began a rehab assignment for Double-A Harrisburg, playing 5 1/2 innings and going 0 for 2 with a walk.
Brewers: RHP Chase Anderson (5-2, 3.78 ERA) is 1-0 with a 2.84 ERA in seven starts since the All-Star break.
Nationals: RHP Erick Fedde (3-2, 4.09), who is coming off a season-high, 102-pitch outing in a defeat of Cincinnati on Tuesday, gets the nod as the three-game series concludes.