Even an eight-man bullpen will be taxed by a duct-tape rotation that can't get reinforcements soon enough. Brandon McCarthy, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Alex Wood are in various stages of healing, while Frankie Montas could beat them all into the rotation.
Roberts needed five innings from his relievers in the loss to the Brewers and they didn't do well. Casey Fien, who hadn't allowed a run since being claimed off waivers, served up home runs to Aaron Hill and Chris Carter. It was five homers in 13 2/3 innings that led to Minnesota putting Fien on waivers.
Then, after the Dodgers' offense erased their second three-run deficit of the night in the sixth inning, Pedro Baez allowed a two-run homer in the ninth to Jonathan Villar for the final margin. Baez has served up as many home runs in 30 1/3 innings, as Kershaw has in 108 -- six.
For his part, Kazmir stepped up to take the blame for an odd outing. He struck out eight, but repeatedly fell behind in counts and the pitch-counter spun out of control to 93 when Roberts pulled the plug.
"That's on me," he said. "I put my team in a bad hole. Having the bullpen cover five innings, it's never good in a ballgame. Not getting ahead of hitters, I think 20-something foul balls, that'll do it. Could have minimized the damage making some quality pitches with runners in scoring position, but a couple hits and they get those three runs. Short outing, that's disappointing."
Kazmir struck out the last four batters he faced, but Roberts said his removal was "a no-brainer" because of the stressful innings, including 27 pitches in a scoreless first inning and 30 in the three-run third. Kazmir had a sit-down with pitching coach Rick Honeycutt when told he was done for the night.
"I respect the decision that Doc made," he said. "Ninety-something pitches in four innings, you don't deserve to go back out there in the fifth inning, I think."
The pitching woes overshadowed a stubborn offensive display by the Dodgers, which included a three-run homer from Trayce Thompson to wipe out the first deficit. Thompson also started the second comeback with a double leading off a three-run sixth that included RBI singles from Howie Kendrick and Joc Pederson, then a controversial sacrifice fly by Justin Turner and a subsequent dugout argument with Yasmani Grandal.
• Turner, Grandal downplay dugout argument
The Dodgers even loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth with two outs, using Kershaw as a pinch-runner, but Milwaukee closer Jeremy Jeffress struck out Corey Seager with a nasty slider for his 19th save.