PHOTO: Milwaukee Brewers’ Jonathan Villar watches from the dugout with cups on his face during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins Sunday, April 22, 2018, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Aaron Gash)
Christian Yelich hit his first homer since returning from the disabled list, Junior Guerra worked five innings, and Jeffress and two other relievers did the rest for the Milwaukee Brewers in a 4-2 victory over the Miami Marlins on Sunday. Milwaukee completed a four-game sweep of Miami and has won six straight overall, its longest winning streak since 2015.
Guerra (2-0) allowed an unearned run on five hits and struck out four in his third start of the season, but he left Jeffress in a tricky spot after loading the bases with no outs in the sixth and the Brewers leading 2-1.
Jeffress responded with his signature intensity.
“When I’m in between those lines, I’m a totally different guy,” Jeffress said. “I don’t like nobody. It’s just who I am when I’m on the mound. It’s no disrespect to anybody.”
He struck out Brian Anderson, got J.B. Shuck to pop up in foul territory and then whiffed Lewis Brinson.
“J.J. did a great job for us today,” Yelich said. “That was kind of a turning point in the game, and he was able to get out of that.”
Jeffress grimaced and pounded his chest as he walked toward the dugout.
“It’s the only way I can pitch,” Jeffress said. “Just being that bull up there and going right at guys.”
Matt Albers retired the side in order in the seventh. Josh Hader pitched the final two innings for his third save.
Caleb Smith (0-3) struck out a career-high 10 in six innings in his first career start against the Brewers. He didn’t walk a batter, but the only two hits he allowed in the fourth cost him.
Lorenzo Cain led off with a single and scored on Yelich’s second homer of the season. Yelich, who came off the 10-day disabled list on April 17, was acquired from Miami in January in exchange for Lewis Brinson and three minor leaguers as the Marlins shed payroll.
The Brewers added a run in the seventh when first baseman Justin Bour muffed pinch-hitter Eric Thames’ roller with the bases loaded.
J.T. Realmuto reached on catcher’s interference and scored on Bour’s double in the first.
Marlins: SS Miguel Rojas, batting .158 (3 for 19) during the nine-game trip, was out of the starting lineup for the first time this season. “We know he’s playing every day, but guys need their days off,” manager Don Mattingly said. Rojas pinch-hit in the ninth.
Brewers: SS Orlando Arcia missed his second game after twisting his ankle Friday night. “We’ll run him around today, check him out tomorrow and if he passes, he’ll be ready to go on Tuesday,” manager Craig Counsell said.
NO PLACE TO HIDE
Bour’s single off Hader drove in a run in the eighth, but then he ran into an embarrassing double play. Bour raced around second on Brian Anderson’s one-out fly to center and was an easy out at first.
“I saw the first baseman go behind me, so I’m thinking right there, two outs,” Bour said. “Just a mental lapse. I’d much rather go 0 for 4 with four strikeouts than commit an error and do something stupid on the bases. That just leaves a terrible feeling in your stomach, just brutal.”
Mattingly couldn’t put any positive spin on the mistake.
“Frustrating, obviously,” he said. “I really don’t know what to say about it. It’s frustrating.”
Smith’s outing was much better his previous one, a 12-1 drubbing by the New York Yankees on April 16. In that game, he gave up five runs on five hits and five walks in 2 1/3 innings.
The Brewers improved to a season-high five games over .500 and finished their homestand 6-1 after losing the first game to Cincinnati. Milwaukee hadn’t won six straight since Aug. 30-Sept. 5, 2015.
Marlins: LHP Jarlin Garcia (1-0, 0.86 ERA) makes his first career start and fifth appearance against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the opener of a three-game road series.
Brewers: After a day off, RHP Zach Davies (1-2, 4.84 ERA) makes his first career start against the Kansas City Royals in the opener of a two-game road series.