The Milwaukee Brewers guaranteed themselves a win series win against the best team in the National League on Saturday with a 4-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
They looked for a series sweep today against the best pitcher in baseball, Clayton Kershaw (13-2, 1.82 ERA). They sent out rookie, and top prospect, Jimmy Nelson (2-2, 4.20 ERA) to handle the pitching duties.
This was just the fourth game this season where the Brewers faced at team that had a better record than they did. The first came back in April when the 1-2 Brewers took on the 2-1 Red Sox. The other two were the first two games of this series. If the Brewers managed a win today, they would once again have the best record in the National League, 1/2 game over the Dodgers.
Unfortunately for the Brewers, bad base running and a disastrous squeeze bunt attempt gave away too many base runners for the offense to make up against Kershaw and the Dodgers left Milwaukee with a 5-1 victory in the game.
Nelson had a one-two-three first inning, including a strike out of Adrian Gonzalez, who came into the game with a .398 career average at Miller Park in 23 career games.
Carlos Gomez drew a walk to lead off the Brewers second. It was the first time Kershaw walked the lead-off hitter of a game since last September. Gomez stole second on strike three to Jonathan Lucroy.
Ryan Braun knocked a single to left and Gomez came around to score to give Milwaukee the early 1-0 lead.
Matt Kemp led off the second with a single to center off Nelson but a fly out and two whiffs later and Nelson was out of the inning. Kershaw set the Brewers down in order in the bottom of the second.
Miguel Rojas led off the third with a bunt single. Reynolds and Nelson both went to field it and nobody was left covering first. Nelson followed by grazing Kershaw’s foot on a bunt attempt to put two on with nobody out.
Gonzalez flew out to Gomez, but it was deep enough to bring in Kershaw and tie the game at one. Gomez’s throw went in to third, keeping Gordon at second base. Rickie Weeks made a nice stab on a hard grounder by Kemp to end the inning.
Nelson collected the first extra-base hit of his career, a double off the best pitcher in baseball, to lead off the bottom of the third. It was the first extra-base hit allowed by Kershaw to an opposing pitcher since 7/24/2012 (ht @alecdopp).
Unfortunately, Nelson’s lack of experience on the bases lead to him running into an out. Gomez grounded to short, but Nelson ran to third anyway and was an easy put out. Gomez reached first on the play.
Gomez was picked off by Kershaw and took off for second; he was out in the ensuing run down. Lucroy flew out to end what was a promising inning for the Brewers.
Juan Uribe knocked a one-out single to center in the top of the fourth for the Dodgers. A.J. Ellis grounded to third; Ramirez bobbled it meaning he could only get the out at first base, for the second out
Rojas earned an infield single on a slow chopper to short, but it was hit to softly for a play on him. Nelson walked Kershaw to load the bases. Gordon grounded to Segura to end the inning.
Braun led off the bottom of the fourth with a single up the middle off Kershaw. In 24 at-bats before this game, Braun was hitting .304/.333/.348 off Kershaw.
Braun moved to second on a wild pitch by Kershaw. A second wild pitch and Braun took third. The call on the field was reviewed to see if Braun made it ahead of the throw as the umpire ruled but he was called out on review. It was Milwaukee’s third out on the base paths in 3 1/3 innings.
Ramirez grounded out to first and Khris Davis struck out to end the inning.
Gonzalez knocked a one-out double in the top of the fifth for yet another Dodgers base runner. Kemp followed with a single to center to bring in Gonzalez and give the Dodgers a 2-1 lead.
Andre Either, who got the start with Yasiel Puig getting the day off, singled to right to put two on and make it three straight hits for the Dodgers, but Uribe grounded into an inning-ending double play.
Weeks led off the bottom of the fifth with a double. It was the fourth time in five innings that the Brewers put the lead off man on base. He moved to third on a ground out to second base by Mark Reynolds.
The Brewers attempted a squeeze with Segura batting, but he fouled off the bunt. They tried again and he popped up the bunt to a diving Kershaw, who threw to third to double off Weeks.
Despite scares in the last few innings, Nelson returned to the mound for the sixth and put the Dodgers down in order. It was his final inning of work. He went six innings and allowed two runs on eight hits and one walk. He struck out three.
Gerardo Parra came in to pinch hit for Nelson in the top of the seventh. He popped out and Kershaw struck out Gomez for the second out. Lucroy drew a walk to put a runner on for Braun who bounced out to third to end the inning.
Tom Gorzelanny came in to pitch the seventh for Milwaukee. After a Gordon pop out, Crawford singled to center. Gorzelanny made a wild pick-off throw to first and Reynolds couldn’t handle it. Reynolds threw it away with Crawford going to second and Crawford wound up a third base.
Gonzalez drove in Crawford with a long fly ball to center field; Gomez ran it down but couldn’t make the catch and Gonzalez cruised into second with a double.
Davis knocked a one-out single to left in the bottom of the seventh for Milwaukee’s fifth hit of the day. That was it in the inning for the Crew though.
Marco Estrada came on to toss the eighth for Milwaukee, with Lucroy moving to first and Martin Maldonado taking over behind the plate. After a Uribe strike out Estrada gave up Ellis’s first home run of the year.
Rojas followed with a double to left and Kershaw drove him home with a single to left. After a Gordon line out, Estrada hit Crawford to put two on for Gonzalez who walked to load the bases. Kemp grounded out to end the inning.
Segura led off the Brewers half of the eighth with a single up the middle but that was it in the inning as Kershaw put down Maldonado, Gomez and Lucroy in order.
That was it for Kershaw; he threw eight innings and allowed just one run on six hits and two walks. He struck out six.
Estrada returned to the mound for the ninth for the Brewers. Uribe knocked a one-out single to left. Ellis followed with a deep fly to left-center, but Davis caught, leaping into the wall for the second out. Rojas popped out to end the inning.
Kenley Jansen came on to pitch the ninth for the Dodgers. He struck out Braun, got Ramirez to fly out to right and Davis to end the game with a strike out.
Nelson took the loss for Milwaukee despite the poor effort by the bullpen. Gorzelanny, Kintzler and Estrada combined to give up three runs on six hits and a walk in three innings of work.
Kershaw took the win for the Dodgers, his 14th of the season tying him for the league lead.
The Brewers finished the home stand at 4-2, and will go on the road for a four-game series with the Cubs and a three-game series in Los Angeles against these same Dodgers.