Hoffman saves 600th
Four people were ejected by the umpires, including a fan, on a night that ended with Hoffman being carried off the field by his teammates.
The 42-year-old reliever, baseball’s career saves leader, lost his job as the Brewers’ closer in May after a string of bad outings. But he’s pitched better of late and has been getting ninth-inning work as the team tried to help him reach No. 600.
“I appreciate them sticking with me long enough to get to this point,” Hoffman said.
The right-hander entered in the ninth to his traditional music, “Hells Bells” by AC/DC, and gave up a bloop single to Colby Rasmus. Pinch-hitter Randy Winn then grounded into a double play.
Hoffman got pinch-hitter Aaron Miles on a grounder to shortstop for the final out and raised his arms in triumph as teammates rushed to mob him near the mound. Hoffman’s three sons also ran onto the field to hug him and the crowd roared during a standing ovation.
Brewers players hoisted Hoffman on their shoulders and carried him toward the dugout.
“What a feeling! It’s hard to describe this moment,” Hoffman said in an interview on the field that was broadcast over the Miller Park loudspeakers. “Thanks to everybody who stuck around. Thanks for enduring a long season.”
It was Hoffman’s ninth save in 13 chances this season and 600th in 676 career opportunities. He earned his
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first save for Florida in 1993, then spent most of his career with the San Diego Padres before joining the Brewers last season.
Hoffman stayed in the dugout to receive congratulations from teammates and was given a large photo of himself pitching at Miller Park by manager Ken Macha and GM Doug Melvin. Fireworks went off and the No. 599 was peeled off to reveal ‘600’ on a sign next to the Brewers’ bullpen in left-center.
“The energy on the field tonight was pretty special,” Hoffman said. “To the fans, I truly appreciate it.”
Hoffman passed Lee Smith as the career saves leader while pitching for San Diego on Sept. 24, 2006, against Pittsburgh, earning his 479th save.
“Individual accomplishments are fantastic,” Hoffman said. “Personally, it’s gratifying that the work I’ve put in over the years has gotten me to this point, but our focus is team-oriented.”
Hoffman had an 11.65 ERA over his first 18 appearances this season, but has had a 2.63 ERA in his last 29 outings.
Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees is second in major league history with 555 saves.
Casey McGehee had a single and double with three RBIs for Milwaukee in a game that featured four ejections: Macha, Milwaukee center fielder Chris Dickerson, Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan and a fan.
In the bottom of the seventh, plate umpire Bob Davidson stopped the game and walked to the stands near the backstop netting and motioned for a fan wearing a T-shirt with a Brewers logo on it to leave his seat. An usher motioned for him to leave, and the fan stood and posed with his arms extended in the air in a V shape while drawing loud cheers from the crowd.
In the second, Macha was tossed by second base umpire Tim Timmons while arguing an interference call that cost the Brewers a run.
Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan was ejected from the dugout by Davidson in the third for arguing balls and strikes.
In the fifth, Dickerson was called out on strikes and slammed his helmet to the ground while walking back to the dugout, prompting an immediate ejection from Davidson.
Brewers starter Chris Narveson (11-7) pitched seven innings, giving up two runs on four hits and three walks while striking out nine.
St. Louis starter Kyle Lohse (2-7) went five innings, giving up four runs on seven hits and two walks with five strikeouts. In four starts since returning from the disabled list, he is 1-3 with a 10.31 ERA.
Milwaukee won for only the second time in eight games.
With the score tied at 2, Narveson was hit by a pitch that simply brushed his jersey to lead off the fifth. Rickie Weeks then walked.
Lohse got Corey Hart and Ryan Braun to fly out, but Prince Fielder walked to load the bases. McGehee then singled to score both Narveson and Weeks for a 4-2 Brewers lead.
Milwaukee also scored twice in the first. Braun hit a two-out single and scored on Fielder’s double. McGehee then doubled down the right-field line to score Fielder for a 2-0 lead.
The Cardinals tied it at 2 in the fourth on RBI singles by Yadier Molina and Rasmus.