Hinske's blast helps D-backs fend off Crew in extras
Pinch-hit homer in 11th propels Arizona to first sweep of Milwaukee
MILWAUKEE -- Every game, Eric Hinske has a routine that he goes through to get himself ready, just in case he's needed to pinch-hit late in a game.
"I prepare all day for a minute of work," Hinske said.
Hinske's efforts paid big dividends to the D-backs on Sunday, as he blasted a pinch-hit two-run homer to lead Arizona past the Brewers, 8-7, in 11 innings at Miller Park.
The win was the fourth in a row for the D-backs, who swept the three-game series for their first sweep of the Brewers, home or road.
Hinske's homer saved the D-backs from what could have been a dispiriting loss.
Arizona led, 6-4, heading into the ninth before Milwaukee rallied for a pair of runs off closer J.J. Putz.
After Brewers closer John Axford retired the D-backs in order in the 10th inning -- and with the rest of the bullpen dragging -- manager Ron Roenicke had to send him back out there for the 11th.
Cliff Pennington started the frame off with a double to left, and Arizona manager Kirk Gibson then elected to have Hinske pinch-hit rather than have another player lay down a sacrifice bunt.
Gibson's decision proved to be the right one, as Hinske crushed a 1-2 curveball well over the wall in center just to the left of the batter's eye.
"I was just trying to put the ball in play," Hinske said. "It was a hanging breaking ball and it just kept going. That kind of surprised me too, how far I hit it -- it felt great, I didn't even feel it hit the bat."
Hinske had studied Axford and knew that the right-hander liked to throw his mid-90s fastball up in the zone and then drop in his curve.
"He's only got two pitches, so he's going to one or the other," Hinske said. "But I was hitting off the fastball for sure, he just hung a breaking ball. I was ready to hit the fastball and just adjusted when I saw it hang."
Hinske is a Wisconsin native, and his uncle along with his brother and his six friends were in attendance. Hinske's parents had been there for the first two games of the series, but left Sunday morning.
"They were all jacked up," Hinske said of his cheering section. "I pointed at them after I crossed home plate."
With Putz having blown the save earlier, Gibson turned to veteran Heath Bell to try and shut the Brewers down in the 11th.
After retiring the first batter of the inning, Bell allowed three straight singles, the final one by Jonathan Lucroy, which scored Norichika Aoki to pull the Brewers within a run at 8-7.
That brought Rickie Weeks up to the plate, while slugger Ryan Braun made his way to the on-deck circle. Braun did not play in the first two games of the series due to neck spasms. As it turns out, he was not able to pinch-hit, because once Weeks struck out looking, Roenicke sent pitcher Kyle Lohse up to pinch-hit for reliever Mike Gonzalez.
Bell then fanned Lohse looking to end the game.
Since a rough first outing of the season, Bell has thrown the ball well in his last two appearances after working with the coaching staff to try and recapture the rhythm and mechanics that made him so successful as a closer in San Diego.
"I think I pretty much have them the last two outings," Bell said. "I feel like I'm back and I've just got to keep plugging, keep working."
The win for the D-backs was their first in a game started by Brewers right-hander Yovani Gallardo, who was 7-0 with a 1.09 ERA in his previous nine starts against Arizona, with the Brewers winning all of those games.
The D-backs, though, managed to work Gallardo hard and touched him for four runs in his six innings of work. It was the first time the D-backs managed more than two earned runs against him.
"We got some runs off him, and I was like, 'I've just got to survive,'" said Arizona starter Ian Kennedy, who lost two matchups against Gallardo in the 2011 National League Division Series. "Against him, that doesn't happen too often. He usually does pretty well against us."