With one big cut, A-Gon swings game in Dodgers' favor
By Steve Bourbon and Adam McCalvy
LOS ANGELES -- Adrian Gonzalez hit a go-ahead, two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth to give the Dodgers a 4-3 win on Sunday in a rare letdown for the Brewers' usually stout bullpen.
Holding onto a 3-2 lead, Milwaukee brought in left-handed reliever Will Smith to face the left-handed Gonzalez, but the All-Star first baseman took an 0-2 slider over the wall in right-center field to give the Dodgers the lead and Kenley Jansen slammed the door for the save. Gonzalez was the 195th batter to fall into an 0-2 count against Smith, and only the second to homer. It was the first home run off Smith in his 42 appearances this season, and the first late loss for a Brewers team that entered the afternoon 30-0 when leading after seven innings.
"It was a slider," Gonzalez said. "I wasn't quite waiting on it but definitely trying to stay on it, but somehow I was able to stay through it and get a good piece of wood on it."
Ryan Braun and Hernan Perez each smacked a solo home run for the Brewers, who didn't trail in the game until Gonzalez's blast. Kyle Lohse pitched five innings and allowed two runs, while striking out six. Brewers starting pitchers allowed a total of three earned runs in 21 innings this series.
"We had the matchups we wanted," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "But that's the game. You put one of your best guys against one of their best guys, and you watch the matchup."
Justin Turner contributed a 3-for-4 day at the plate with an RBI. Brett Anderson made two mistakes on the homers to Braun and Perez, but went seven innings and allowed three runs to earn a no-decision.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Braun starts hot: Braun learned only an hour or so before the first pitch that National League All-Star manager Bruce Bochy had added him to the roster for the Midsummer Classic, and Braun promptly bolstered his credentials by connecting for a first-inning solo home run. It was Braun's 16th this season in his 85th game, already three homers shy of his total in 135 games last season while dealing with a thumb injury. More >
Lohse long balls: Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis, an offseason resident of Franklin, Wis., in the Milwaukee suburbs, hit a solo shot in the fifth inning to cut the Dodgers' deficit to 3-2 and made it 16 times in 19 starts that Lohse had surrendered at least one home run. Lohse finished the first half with a 6.17 ERA, third-highest in Brewers history for a pitcher who made at least 15 starts before the break. Only Glendon Rusch (7.90 ERA in 2003) and Jim Abbott (6.84 in 1999) fared poorer.
"I thought Kyle did a great job. He keeps going on a normal day," Counsell said of Lohse's five-inning, two-run effort. "But with the break coming and having a rested bullpen and guys who have been pitching really well, I went to them. It's something for him to build on, for sure." More >
Limiting damage: The Brewers loaded the bases with three straight singles in the fourth inning, but came away with only one run. After an RBI groundout from Perez, Lohse attempted a squeeze bunt but Anderson was quick off the mound and flipped the ball to Ellis with his glove to record the out. Anderson induced another groundout after that to end the inning and keep the Dodgers within striking distance. "You look at where you're at in the order and you think you've got a decent shot to minimize," manager Don Mattingly said. "If you can get that leadoff guy, then you can get out of that inning pretty good and that's what he did."
Short outing: The Brewers brought in Smith specifically to face the middle of the Dodgers' order and he provided no relief. He allowed the home run to Gonzalez and after a flyout to the warning track, left-handed Joc Pederson doubled down the right-field line before Smith was pulled in favor of Jonathan Broxton. Sunday was the first loss of the season for Smith (4-1).
"It stinks to go into the All-Star break with a bad taste in your mouth," Smith said.
"You hope that says something about the character of your club that they're going to keep having good at-bats and find a way to win," -- Mattingly on the team coming back late twice in the series. More >
Brewers left fielder Khris Davis played his 250th game in the Major Leagues and 676th game as a pro -- and batted leadoff for the first time.
"It's Rickie Weeks leading off, to me. It's the same player," said Counsell. "With this group, I think he really fits there."
Davis had a quiet day at the plate but made a highlight-reel catch in the bottom of the fourth inning, when he dove to catch a Gonzalez line drive. The baseball briefly popped out of Davis' glove, but he caught it before it hit the turf.
WHAT'S NEXT Brewers: The Brewers begin the second half at home with a three-game set against the Pirates followed by a two-game Interleague series against the Indians. Right-hander Mike Fiers will be on the mound for Friday's 7:10 p.m. CT opener against PIttsburgh's Charlie Morton.
Dodgers: After the All-Star break, the Dodgers will embark on a 10-game road trip with its first stop being in Washington for a three-game series with the Nationals. With Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw both participating in the Midsummer Classic, Mattingly has yet to say how he will reorder the rotation for the second half of the season, beginning with Friday's game.