Brewers' bats come to life against Dodgers

Brewers' bats come to life against Dodgers

LOS ANGELES -- Step right up, ladies and gentlemen, to the carnival ride that is the 2010 Milwaukee Brewers.

"Ride the roller coaster!" manager Ken Macha said in a moment of levity. "Get on board."

Coming off a dismal showing in San Diego, the Brewers rode their roller coaster to Dodger Stadium and scored nine runs in the second inning on the way to an 11-6 win over the Dodgers on Tuesday night. It was quite a climb from PETCO Park, where the Brewers were shut out three times and managed only two runs in their lone win in a four-game series against the Padres.

"It's weird," said first baseman Prince Fielder, who belted his third home run amid Tuesday's nine-run flurry. "I don't think we did anything different, it was just a different result. It's just baseball. I'm starting to just give in to baseball."

Fielder's two-run homer capped a forgettable outing for Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw (1-2). Brewers catcher Gregg Zaun had three hits and two RBIs, and left fielder Ryan Braun had two hits, including a three-run double. All of the offense came in support of Brewers left-hander Chris Narveson (2-0), who allowed three runs on four hits in six innings for the win.

Braun and Fielder both struck out as the Brewers squandered a pair of baserunners in the first inning against Kershaw, but they made the most of their chances in the second. Braun's bases-clearing double gave the Brewers a 5-0 lead, and Fielder followed with a booming homer that finally put him into double-digit RBIs (11) and knocked Kershaw out of the game.

The Brewers tacked on two more runs against reliever Ramon Ortiz for their third inning this season of at least nine runs. They also scored nine times in the eighth inning against the Pirates on April 26, eight days after a 10-run first inning against the Nationals on April 18. The Dodgers had not allowed nine runs in an inning since June 11, 2002, against the Rays.

Kershaw had not allowed more than three runs in any of his previous 10 starts, dating to last season. He entered Tuesday's outing with a 3.07 ERA and was wild from the start, walking Rickie Weeks on four consecutive two-strike balls and then allowing a soft single to Carlos Gomez. But Kershaw recovered to strike out Braun and Fielder before retiring Casey McGehee on a groundout.

An inning later, the Brewers got the best of the young left-hander. He surrendered four hits, hit two batters, including Gomez with the bases loaded, and walked another while recording only one out.

"I think we have to keep in mind how young he is and what limited experience he has and understand that this is going to happen every once in a while," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said.

While the Dodgers get to know the 22-year-old Kershaw, the Brewers are trying to figure out this all-or-nothing offense. General manager Doug Melvin had spent the better part of two days dissecting the team before settling into a seat at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday night, meeting first with the team's owner on Monday's day off and then over coffee with the field manager on Tuesday morning.

Better brew another pot, because this could take some time.

"It's a funny game," Melvin said. "There are some strange things happening out there in baseball, and we're a part of that."

Melvin said he figured the subtraction of two power hitters from the past two seasons -- center fielder Mike Cameron and shortstop J.J. Hardy -- and the addition of youngsters Gomez and Alcides Escobar at those positions would contribute to a more up-and-down offensive unit. But this is going a bit far for Melvin's taste.

April 17 is when things really started getting wild. The Brewers were shut out by Livan Hernandez and the Nationals that day, 8-0, but came back the following afternoon with a 10-run first inning on the way to an 11-7 win.

Then it was off to Pittsburgh, where the Brewers swept the Pirates by a cumulative score of 36-1, then back to Milwaukee, where the Brewers were on the wrong end of a three-game sweep by the Cubs, 25-4.

A 12-2 loss in the series finale against the Cubs was followed by a 17-3 win over the Pirates. Closer Trevor Hoffman suffered blown saves in the next two games before the Brewers hit the road for San Diego and appeared to leave their bats behind.

"It's been feast or famine so far," Braun said. "Obviously, the goal is to be consistent in scoring four or five per game instead of scoring in bunches and getting shut out the rest of the time. But baseball is crazy. You can't explain it."

The Brewers are 7-9 in their last 16 games. They have outscored opponents in the seven wins, 77-18, and were outscored in the nine losses, 66-12.

"Funny game, baseball," Macha said.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.