MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Brewers topped their crowd-pleasing Christian Yelich bobblehead giveaway with another surprise gift, thanks to Mike Moustakas.
Moustakas launched a homer that won a new SUV for a fan, Yelich hit his major league-leading 24th home run and the Brewers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-2 Sunday for a three-game sweep.
“That homer won us the game and somebody a car, which is pretty cool,” Yelich said.
Moustakas connected for his 20th homer off Francisco Liriano (1-1). The tiebreaking, two-run drive in the eighth inning hit the roof of a metallic gray SUV, a promotional vehicle perched above the right-center field fence. One lucky fan got the same model to go along with their Yelich bobblehead.
“That was a first time for me,” Moustakas said. “Definitely something I am going to remember for a long time.”
Moustakas was just as shocked as the fan holding the winning ticket.
“I didn’t know that I actually won somebody a car until afterwards,” Moustakas said. “You came to a ballgame and leave with a car is pretty cool.”
The Brewers said season ticketholder Mark Gruber was the fortunate fan. He’ll get the keys to his new SUV in a pregame presentation before the team’s next date at Miller Park on June 20 against Cincinnati.
Liriano said he didn’t execute the way he wanted and it cost him.
“I hit that one pretty good,” Moustakas said of the 1-0 pitch that got away from Liriano. “I haven’t had too much success against Liriano in my career. Faced him a ton. Just looking for a good pitch to put a ball in play. Fortunately, got one and put a good swing on it.”
Liriano knew he made a mistake.
“I just missed my spot,” he said after the Pirates lost their fifth straight to the Brewers. “I walked (Yasmani) Grandal, then Moustakas put a good swing on it.”
Orlando Arcia hit a sacrifice fly off Geoff Hartlieb to finish the scoring in the eighth.
Jeremy Jeffress (1-0) pitched the eighth. Josh Hader struck out the side in the ninth for his 16th save and moved the Brewers a season-high 10 games over .500.
The sellout crowd cheered each time Yelich came to the plate, but had little to celebrate until the sixth. Yelich kept the ballpark rocking when he hit the first pitch from starter Steven Brault into the party porch in right.
“That guy is on a different planet,” Moustakas said.
Yelich has now hit eight home runs on the first pitch and 17 have come within the first two pitches of an at-bat. Both are tops in the majors. Dating to last season's All-Star break, 31 of his 49 homers (63 percent) have come on either the first or second pitch of an at-bat.
Brault went a career-best 6⅓ innings and struck out five. He turned over a 2-1 lead with one out in the sixth to Richard Rodriguez, and pinch hitter Ben Gamel greeted him with an RBI single that made it 2-all.
Brault planned to use a four-seamer and a sinker as his primary pitches against the Brewers.
“We’re going to attack these guys and see what happens,” he said. “That was the main goal.”
Jung Ho Kang, reinstated on Saturday from the 10-day injured list after being out with a left side strain, hit a two-run homer in the first off Chase Anderson.
The 457-foot drive was Kang’s fifth home run of the season.
Anderson allowed two runs on four hits over six innings in his first start since a 16-0 drubbing by the Miami Marlins on Tuesday. In that game, he allowed four runs on seven hits, including three home runs, in four innings.
From the infirmary
Brewers right-hander Jhoulys Chacín (lower back strain) threw a bullpen session before the game. Counsell said it’s possible Chacín could make a start during the road trip. ... Brewers left-hander Gio González (left arm) played catch the past two days and starts throwing again Monday, but his return is farther off. ... Counsell was notified by Milwaukee County that he may be called for jury duty.
Right-hander Freddy Peralta (3-2, 5.11 ERA) on Monday makes his 12th appearance, eighth start of the season and first against the Astros in the opener of an eight-game, nine-day road trip to Houston, San Francisco and San Diego.