ARLINGTON, Texas — Jonathan Villar homered on the first pitch of the game for the Milwaukee Brewers. His sacrifice fly on a foul pop to short right field in the second inning put them back ahead after blowing their first lead.
There was not another comeback after a trio of former Brewers helped put the AL-leading Texas Ranger ahead to stay late.
Carlos Gomez, a former two-time All-Star with the Brewers, hit a tiebreaking three-run homer in the eighth inning to give the Rangers an 8-5 victory, their MLB-best 49th come-from-behind win.
“I’m not surprised. I know he’s a hard worker. He plays hard and always has been a good hitter,” center fielder Hernan Perez said.
Jonathan Lucroy, the catcher traded from Milwaukee to Texas on Aug. 1, started the Texas eighth when he reached on a two-base error by Perez. And Jeremy Jeffress, the reliever who went to Texas with Lucroy, worked two scoreless innings for his first win with the Rangers.
The Brewers scored in each of the first three innings to build a 5-3 lead against All-Star left-hander Cole Hamels, who likely will start the Rangers’ postseason opener Oct. 6. But they didn’t score again.
“We did a nice job for the first three innings. We had him on the ropes a little bit. We were aggressive and did a nice job staying off some stuff,” manager Craig Counsell said. “We didn’t quite do enough defensively tonight just overall to keep a really good lineup in check.”
Corey Knebel (1-4) was the fourth Brewers pitcher when he took over in the eighth, and Lucroy hit a ball that ricocheted off the glove of a leaping Perez.
“That one was like a knuckleball. It went left to right, and at the last minute moved to the left again,” said Perez, playing only his fifth game in center this season.
Lucroy’s pinch-runner, Delino DeShields, scored the tying run on Elvis Andrus’ RBI single before Gomez then hit a 418-foot drive to left field, a night after hitting another long three-run homer — a 444-footer. He started this season in Houston, where he had been traded last year by Milwaukee, before being released by the Astros last month.
Texas went ahead with a three-run first that started when Gomez reached on a double after second baseman Villar never saw the popup that dropped in short right-center field. Rougned Odor snapped an 0-for-22 slide with his 32nd homer after Adrian Beltre’s RBI single,
“The ball that was hard to see, obviously there’s nothing you can do about that,” Brewers starter Chase Anderson said. “That was tough to swallow. Even as a hitter, you think you’re out when you hit a ball like that.”
The Brewers led again after two unearned runs in the second. All-Star center fielder Ian Desmond’s throwing error allowed one run to score and set up Yadiel Rivera at third base to go home on Villar’s shallow foul popup caught by second baseman Odor.
Jeffress got the victory five days after being reinstated by Major League Baseball from the restricted list following a drunken driving arrest last month and then a three-week stint in an inpatient rehab clinic. He retired all four Milwaukee batters he faced Monday.
Anderson had allowed only three runs in 22 1/3 innings in his four previous starts, but he allowed three in the first inning against Texas. The right-hander left after five innings, having given up only an unearned run after that initial outburst by the Rangers.
SUTER’S 2ND START
Young lefty Brent Suter, a 31st-round draft pick out of Harvard in 2012, will start Friday when the Brewers open a three-game series at Colorado. He is going in place of scheduled starter Taylor Jungmann, who suffered a hip injury in a start last Saturday.
Suter has pitched 12 1/3 scoreless innings in 12 relief appearances since getting called up for an emergency start Aug. 19 against Seattle, when he allowed four runs in 4 1/3 innings in his major league debut.
Brewers: Jungmann felt pain running to first base during an at-bat Saturday, then stayed in another half-inning before coming out because of his hip abductor.
The Brewers are off Thursday before playing in Colorado on Friday.