MILWAUKEE – In a season of disappointments, the one thing the Milwaukee Brewers had been perfect at was protecting a lead after eight innings.
Closer Jim Henderson, who had recorded a save in each of his last 12 appearances, surrendered a two-run pinch homer to Hank Conger in the ninth inning on Saturday night, giving the Los Angeles Angels a 6-5 victory.
Milwaukee had been 50-0 this season when leading after eight innings, the last team in the majors without a loss.
"I felt good with my fastball tonight. It was lively. I throw a lot of fastballs," Henderson said. "Conger, credit him. He was just timing it up there, saw three of them and timed up the third one. It was a little bit too middle, for sure."
Henderson (3-4) retired his first two batters in the ninth before pinch-hitter Josh Hamilton doubled off the glove of sliding right fielder Caleb Gindle. Conger followed with his seventh home run, driving a 2-1 delivery down the right-field line that barely stayed fair.
"Two outs, Hambone gets that big clutch hit for us to keep the inning alive," Conger said. "I stepped up to the plate, I'd never seen him before, so I'm trying to track him. After a couple, I was just trying to put a good swing on it, just try to drive the ball . Let's just say I was swinging very hard."
Dane Da La Rosa (6-1) pitched a perfect eighth for the win and Ernesto Frieri worked the ninth for his 29th save in 33 chances.
"It was a bad game to lose. We played well, battled back and got the lead," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "Henderson has been great all year. We know he's not going to be perfect and there's going to be a time he gives up some runs. It's unfortunate when we battle back like that, it's just hard to lose those games."
Jonathan Lucroy drove in four runs and scored another for the Brewers. He doubled in two runs in the first and singled home two more in the seventh to give Milwaukee a 5-4 lead.
"Guys on base . he's tough. He stays inside the ball, he stays on off-speed stuff," Roenicke said. "They try to come in on him and he can still get to it. He's a tough guy to get out."
With the Brewers trailing 4-3, pinch-hitter Norichika Aoki greeted Buddy Boshers, who relieved to start the seventh, with a single off the glove of second baseman Grant Green. With one out, Scooter Gennett was hit by a pitch. Michael Kohn relieved and Jean Segura reached on a single off the glove of shortstop Erick Aybar to load the bases. Lucroy followed with a two-run single to right.
The Angels scored three runs on five singles in the third to erase a 2-0 deficit. J.B. Shuck singled and moved to third on a single by Aybar. Mike Trout squibbed an infield single to the right side, scoring Shuck. Kole Calhoun followed with an RBI single to right, scoring Aybar from second and sending Trout to third. Luis Jimenez's one-out single scored Trout to make it 3-2.
The Brewers tied it 3-all in the bottom half when Lucroy singled with two outs, stole second and Aramis Ramirez followed with a double down the right-field line. Chris Iannetta opened the fourth inning with his seventh home run, hammering a 1-0 pitch to left-center to put the Angels on top 4-3.
Lucroy's two-run double put the Brewers up 2-0 in the first. Gennett and Segura opened with consecutive singles and Lucroy followed with an opposite-field drive into the right-field corner.
Conger's homer also ruined a solid effort by Brewers starter Marco Estrada, who battled for seven innings after a shaky start. Estrada allowed four runs on nine hits — all in the first four innings.
"His command wasn't as good as it's been, certainly not as good as his last outing," Roenicke said. "There were some things that inning that we could have helped him out on. It was an outing that he still kept us in the game. We took the lead and that's what you ask these guys to do."
NOTES: The Angels' back-to-back shutouts of Tampa Bay on Thursday and Milwaukee on Friday were their first consecutive road shutouts since May 12-13, 1999, against the Yankees. ... The Brewers have lost the last seven games at home against the Angels, dating to 1997.