MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers finally found the solution to their 22-inning scoreless streak: Hand a bat to Josh Hader.
Hader, the long-haired, loose-armed reliever who entered the game in the fourth inning after Brewers starter Brandon Woodruff threw 95 pitches to get 11 outs, singled off Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks for his first Major League hit leading off the bottom of the fifth. He trotted home when Eric Thames came through two batters later with a tying, two-run home run. Two batters after that, Travis Shaw hit another two-run homer for a 4-2 Brewers lead in what became a 5-4 walk-off win.
Just like that, the Brewers' scoreless streak was snapped.
"I just closed my eyes, and it happened to be a base hit," Hader said. "We came along today. Two big homers and we pulled through."
The homers accounted for Milwaukee's first runs in nearly 72 hours, since Christian Yelich and Ryan Braun crushed consecutive home runs with two outs in the ninth inning of Tuesday's 5-4 win over the Cardinals at Miller Park. The Brewers were shut out the next day by Carlos Martinez and the Cardinals, then blanked again Thursday by Jonathan Lester and the Cubs before Hendricks kept Milwaukee off the board through the first four innings on Friday night.
The 22-inning scoreless streak was the longest for the Brewers since going 23 consecutive innings without a run from July 25-27, 2015. The dubious franchise record for offensive futility is 32 consecutive innings in April 2013 before Braun homered to start a comeback against the Cardinals in St. Louis.
"I don't see us being shut out for however many innings that was too often this year," Shaw said. "We're too good of an offense to do that."
Shaw's homer left his bat at 113.5 mph, according to Statcast™, making it the second-hardest homer of his career.
"It felt good to score again," Shaw said.
A couple of Brewers wondered privately whether Hader's hit did anything to rattle Hendricks, who scattered three singles and a walk in the first four innings. Hendricks said that was not the case.
Hader was 3-for-40 at the plate as a professional before Friday's at-bat. Does he consider himself a good hitter?
"Me personally, no," he said. "Once the curveball started going for strikes, my hitting went down, so that's why I stuck with pitching."